November 08, 2004
Best in Show
obsession passion, there is a community to support it. I was at a cat show this weekend to support a friend's mom who was showing her housecat. He's an easygoing fellow, very appreciative of attention. He's gorgeous and in great shape for being 14 and a half, a detail that came up again and again. (There were six rounds of judging over two days, intermingled with judging for the pedigreed animals as well.) He ended up winning Best Household Pet. The cat was unflappable; his mother hooted and hollered so that the entire exhibitors' hall heard her. She swears up and down that he knows he's a winner, but he looked about as excited as I felt being there. But it was his time, after being shown for years. I'd like to think he'll have a nice retirement, but I suspect he'll be back.
I envied the cat for having a place to curl up and sleep all day. His mom, however, was really, really, really thrilled his victory. As she should be, given that she's dealing with breast cancer and recent kidney failure this year. I don't know how she managed to keep up over the last two days. I'm reasonably healthy, and I'm still exhausted. Which is weird - there's not a lot of physical activity. You set up the cage - meaning that you decorate it. (People go all out.) You sit around most of the time, unless you get up to walk around and look at the other cats, or to head to the judging rounds. There's lots of time for cat grooming, although there's always that last minute flurry right before going to the judging ring, cleaning ears and butt, combing and using a chamois cloth to rub down the cat.
I didn't really do anything that her husband couldn't do. He's actually quite good at handling the cat and presenting him when the judges would ask the owners to come up and talk about their pets. I felt obliged, because I really haven't done much to help them beyond a few things here and there. So I came along as moral support, as a companion, as a momentary ease to my conscience. Giving up my whole weekend was the least I could do.
It wasn't all work - I enjoyed seeing unusual breeds up close, and cute kittens, and what new kitty tchotchkes were on the market. There is a lot of tacky stuff out there. You'd think that the glittery pins with flashing, strobe-like, stroke-inducing lights were bad enough, but there was worse. There were cool cat trees though, including some made from actual tree branches. A big hit with feral cats, I understand.
Which brings to mind a funny overheard conversation. A woman talked about trapping and taming some cats that she was trying to get adopted. She said she got help placing them from some "feral people in Alabama."
It was surreal, though. In some ways I feel like the world has spun off its axis. Being at the show, surrounded by people completely consumed by their cats, and later, having dinner in a sports bar, surrounded by people watching college football, I was thinking "What the hell is wrong with you people?" Then again, if the election were to be held at that bar, or at the cat show, the results would've been the same, or perhaps even more slanted in the wrong direction.