From whiskers to tail, show hunts for the perfect cat

06/02/2013 12:00 AM

06/03/2013 8:51 AM

The cats waited for their number to be called.

Each animal had two minutes on the table, while a judge felt the fur and measured the space between the eyes. Then there was polite clapping from the audience.

About 300 cat enthusiasts and 154 felines gathered Saturday at McClellan Convention Center in North Highlands for the 20th annual High Sierra Club Cat Show. The event drew people from across three states.

"People just really love cats. This is about showing what they've accomplished," said organizer David Freels, referring to the numerous breeders present at the show.

Cats compete within their breed. Breeders are constantly striving to rear the best cat, Freels said.

"But no cat is perfect," he added.

Six judges made their way through a roster of 154 cats during the six-hour event. The judges assign points to a cat based on its physical characteristics and whether the animal follows the standard for the perfect cat, which is published by the Cat Fanciers' Association. The standards stipulate the color, height, weight and other characteristics for each breed.

Some cats, such as the long-haired Persian, are harder to prepare for the competition.

Cheryl Carter, 68, of Roseville owns one such cat. She watched excitedly as her red and white Persian named Katzino Rockin Robin took the stage.

"Short tail," the judge quickly remarked, while feeling the animal's soft white fur.

Minutes later, Carter described the complicated process behind prepping Persians for shows.

"We all try our favorite products like shampoo and then comb-brush the hair," she said. "It takes a lot of time."

At 11 months old, Saturday's show was Katzino Rockin Robin's second competition. Freels noted that show cats can compete starting at 7 months old.

Americans own 86.2 million cats – as compared with 78.2 million dogs – according to the Humane Society of America.

Sacramento's Roseann Reveles brought her daughter and grandson to the show to "enjoy the different breeds."

"I like all cats, but I'm partial to Siamese," she said.

The hobby of cat shows can be expensive. Freels said most breeders travel the nation to take part in the contests. Veterinary visits, hotel stays and entry fees can quickly eat away any money made from selling the less-perfect cats.

But costs didn't stop Christopher Mrak of Fallon, Nev., from bringing his British shorthair cat, Niffler, for the Saturday contest.

"I'm just attracted by cats. They look like cartoonish characters," said Mrak, 27.

Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

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