NATICK — Cat lovers of all ages will be descending on the Verve Hotel Boston Natick this weekend when the New England Meow Outfit Inc. presents “A Purr-fect 10: The 10th Cat Fanciers’ Association Allbreed & Household Pet Cat Show.”
The show, in its 10th year, takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 26-27). Special events take place each day, including the judging and presentation of pedigree cats as well as household cats, “Kitty Playoffs” and a Stuffed Animal Contest for kids.
The weekend’s highlight will be the Cat and Owner Costume Contest on Sunday. Judging will be radio talk show host Ron Bell and Boston Globe travel writer and columnist Christopher Muther.
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“We’re pretty excited and honored to have them,” said Iris Zinck, a Cat Fanciers’ Association-approved all-breed judge and founder and president of the New England Meow Outfit Cat Club. She is also the show manager. “Some exhibitors come to the show just to be part of the contest.”
Cat shows are not new
Folks are familiar with dog shows, but few probably realize that cat shows have been around for more than 125 years.
“The first cat show was held in England in 1895,” said Zinck, who has been judging them for 20 years in 20 countries. “Our parent organization, the Cat Fanciers’ Association, is the world’s oldest and largest registry of pedigree and companion cats and it has been involved with cat shows since 1906.”
Cat shows operate on the same principal as dog shows — animals are judged against a written standard that describes the ideal example of each breed.
“They just aren’t as easy to televise as dog shows, so people tend not to know about them,” Zinck said.
During the show, cats stay in what are called “benching” cages. Their owners are close by, awaiting a call to one of the rings for judging, Zinck said. Cats are identified by numbers for judges, just as dogs are.
“When your cat’s number is called, you take it to the ring and put it into a cage there,” Zinck said. “The judge will take each cat out of the cage and handle it on the judging table, evaluating its condition and grooming and judging it against the standards.”
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Judges often play with the cats to get the best view of their eyes, ears, etc., Zinck added.
“After assessing all the cats of a certain breed, the judge will hang ribbons on the cages to indicate best of breed, etc., and move on to the next breed,” she said, adding that each judge’s presentation of his/her finals is always exciting to watch.
“Judges typically present the cats to the audience, talk about each one and why it was selected, and explain a bit about the different breeds, and the cats receive beautiful rosettes,” Zinck said. “Each of the four judging rings will present four finals each day, so there should be ongoing excitement of this nature.”
Chris June attends almost every cat show within 12 hours from her home in Shelton, Connecticut. She got bit with the “show bug” about 28 years ago, when a friend convinced her to show her first pedigree kittens.
June shows Burmese cats.
“I loved it,” she said. “I have met so many wonderful people over the years who have become very close friends.”
Her cats seem to enjoy the experience, as well. “My cats love traveling and love hotels and the show hall.”
Other goings-on at the show
The “Kitty Playoffs” is new.
“While the regular judges are on a lunch break, I am going to use one of the judging rings to handle 10 cats of any age or breed and simply play with them to see which one is most playful,” Zinck said. “I will pick the top three of the group, the audience will then vote — by a show of hands — to rank them 1-2-3. No. 1 gets a very special toy.”
The stuffed animal contest involves children by giving them a little taste of the judging experience, Zinck said.
“Children are invited to bring their stuffed animals to the show and one of our club members will choose three to receive rosettes and prizes,” she said.
Three “Pet Me” cats that people can handle will be on hand, Zinck said.
“One of them is actually a movie star — his name is Bobby, and he was the feature character in two Canadian documentaries — ‘Catwalk’ and the sequel, ‘Catwalk II: the Comeback Kids,’” she said.
Zinck appears in the latter film.
Vendors will sell cat toys and accessories that are not typically found in pet stores. A raffle will offer visitors a chance to win everything from the cat trees to jewelry to wine.
Nicole Parks, of Arlington, attended her first cat show last year. She didn’t have a cat in the show and is not associated with the breeding/showing process but found the event “so fun.”
“The folks showing cats were super-kind,” she said. “I learned so much about the different breeds and got to see so many super-beautiful kitties and interact with people who love cats as much as me. I even brought home some toys that my boys, Dmitri and Waldo, can’t get enough of.”
Tickets and other information
Kittens and household pets can be entered in the show without a registration number, but all others must obtain a number from CFA. For more information visit cfa.org.
Admission to the show is $12 for adults, $10 for children under age 12; children under age 5 are free. Ordering tickets in advance is highly recommended and can be done so at nemocatshow.ticketleap.com.
Parking is free at the Verve Hotel Boston Natick, at 1360 Worcester St. (Route 9).
There is no food concession in the event area, but the hotel has a marketplace in the lobby where snacks and drinks may be purchased.
“The show is a great way to see 30 or more different breeds of cats ‘up close and purr-sonal,’ and learn more about them from the judges, breeders and exhibitors,” Zinck said. “The event space is spread over three different rooms, allowing people to walk around and interact with fellow cat lovers.”