On October 29th, I attended my first cat show as a vendor. I know it seems shocking, as one would think that a cat show would be the first place I’d seek out to showcase my cat artwork. Haha.
Better late than never, I suppose.
After 5 years establishing myself with farmer’s markets, arts festivals, and comic conventions (I don’t even draw comic-book characters ~ what was I thinking?!), I tested the waters with a pet convention last year. The SuperPetExpo, in Chantilly, VA, really ought to have been named “the Super-DOG-Expo”; the canine representation was in full force, with nary a cat to be seen (except a few rescue kittens huddled in cages).
I posted about *that* interesting experience, along with several dog photographs, in this post. You can read it for a few laughs and comparisons.
Fortunately, a lady volunteering with the Maine Coon rescue group convinced me to seriously look into cat shows for future vending opportunities.
Many of the popular cat shows are hosted in far-off exotic places (like Michigan and Georgia, LOL!), making them a bit difficult to add to my schedule, and my e-mails to the National Capitol Cat Show went unanswered for months (they were experiencing staffing changes and didn’t host a show this year). They promised to return in 2017, and I plan to be there!
While checking out the Etsy forums for unrelated info, I stumbled onto a post made by WCFA show organizer, Lisa-Maria Padilla, inviting cat vendors to the October event in Winchester, VA. Approximately an hour’s drive from my home, the show only ran for one day, and it was a purr-fect excuse to dip my paws into the cat show curcuit.
As a kid, I accompanied my mother to the Capitol Cat Show, and I recall seeing cats lurking in the shadows of their fancy display cages. I also remember the various exhibitors selling cat-related items. One artist who painted cats onto rocks particularly impressed me, and I bought a calico cat rock “paperweight” as a birthday gift for my Grandma. Little did I realize that I would grow up to become a cat artist myself! :)
What impressed me most about this show were how docile and unafraid the cats appeared to be. Many owners were seen walking around the room with their cats, either held in arms or perched on shoulders, and they all seemed completely at ease. It was obvious that these cats had been raised for showing, and were quite familiar with this environment.
Attending a cat show provides a glimpse into the world of breeders and cat enthusiasts. There are so many rules and responsibilities that go along with owning a champion show cat.
Take grooming, for example. Those of us who have shared our homes with strays and shelter kitties are mesmorized by the amount of *work* it takes to clean and groom a Persian cat. I assumed the cats were bathed prior to arriving at the show, but I had no idea that they required so much “fluffing” and prepping (with eye creams and face powders) before their appearance in the ring!
I overheard cat owners’ conversations revolving around grooming techniques and products. The announcer would give “Grooming Calls” over the loudspeaker ~ basically, warning the participants to hurry up and finish grooming, because their category was next up for judging. Long-haired cats seemed to be on the grooming tables for hours… especially the finalists, who were repeatedly fluffed before each subsequent judging round.
In addition to bibs, worn to keep their silky “ruffs” (neck/chest fur) clean, several owners also used these special water dishes, with tiny holes, to accomodate just the cat’s tongue, so they wouldn’t get their fur wet!
Another interesting fact involved the origins of pedigreed cats’ “fancy” names. Cat show rosters are comical to read, with names like “Aslanspaw Nicodemus Aloysius”, “Rivndellrags Pandora of Ragtime”, and “Emau’s I Want Candy of Emauge”…
Peter Deal, owner of Rockn’ Spots Frijoles Chocolates (the first cat pictured in my blog), explained that purebred cats’ names usually consist of the breeder/cattery name, the litter name, and the individual cat name. Rockn’ Spots is an Ocicat cattery in Three Rivers, Michigan. Chocolates was the litter name (they were chocolate spotted), and Frijoles was his specific name.
In the case of Grand Champion Aslanspaw Nicodemus Aloysius ~ Aslanspaw is the name of a Maine Coon cattery located in Hampstead, Maryland. Nicodemus is the cat’s name, and Aloysius is the litter into which he was born. Nicodemus has a sister showing named Shasta Aloysius.
I was pleasantly suprised by how quiet the noise level was, in comparison to other events I’ve attended, most notably the SuperPetExpo ~ with its 100+ dogs barking excitedly all day.
There were a few cats meowing at the beginning of the show, but the overall volume soon settled into a low hum of human voices, punctuated by call announcements for the jury ring, and short rounds of applause for winners.
“Ring 3 is ready for Egyptian Mau kittens…”
“Norwegian Forest through Golden Persians ready for Judging….”
“Ring 3 would like to begin judging Shorthair Tortoises…”
That last call made me laugh! Of course, they meant tortoiseshell cats, but I couldn’t help but envision furry turtles!
From a vendors’ standpoint, I was very pleased with this show. It was easy to locate, easy to set-up, and well organized. Everyone was friendly, and the crowd (although small) was appreciative and eager to shop for cat-related gifts. I met so many interesting and knowledgeable people, and saw cat breeds up close that I’d previously only encountered in books.
I will definitely apply for this show again next year, and will seek out additional cat shows to attend. :)
From now until December 17th, every Saturday, I will be in my usual booth (2nd metal building) at the Carroll County Farmer’s Market, in Westminster, MD… with new cat artwork and items for sale.
Thank you for supporting me this year!