Cats vie for best at show


Lavinia Blair of Tampa gives one of her golden Persian kittens a look around the Cat Fanciers' Championship Show at the Paramount Plaza Hotel in Gainesville on Saturday.

BRIANA BROUGH/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 12:01 a.m.

Facts

Felines face off

  • WHAT: Cat Fanciers' Championship Show
  • WHEN: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. today
  • WHERE: Paramount Plaza Hotel, 2900 SW 13th St.
  • ADMISSION: $5. For more information, call (904) 269-5871 or e-mail mchrch@ix.netcom.com

  • It's crowded. It's time-consuming. And it takes a few minutes to get used to the smell.
    But for cat people, a day spent next to their feline friends is a day well spent.
    "People who don't have cats don't know what they're missing," said Pam Keers of Hollywood.
    Keers prefers the snooty-nosed, majestically maned Persians when she attends cat shows, but she said she also has a black and white cat at home with no pedigree who is just as great of a companion.
    "He thinks all this stuff is a bunch of foof, though," she said with a laugh, stroking her finely groomed Persian named Autumn Haze, whose brown, white and grey fur earns it the classification of "brown patch tabby."
    Autumn Haze was one of almost 200 cats and kittens who strutted their stuff for three judges in the first of two days of competition at the Cat Fancier's Championship Show Saturday, held at the Paramount Plaza Hotel.
    Cats of all shapes and sizes took their turn on the judges' tables, vying for titles such as "Best Champion," "Best Color," and eventually, the coveted "Best in Class."
    The show is divided into three classes: Kittens, which are between four and eight months old, Premiership, which are spayed or neutered adults, and Championship, which are "whole" adults.
    Classes are then divided into breeds, and some breeds are separated into divisions - usually by color. The cats are then judged against those in their divisions and breeds, and at the end of the class, each of the judges picks a final top 10 from among all the breeds in a class.
    From there, all six judges' top picks are used to determine an overall top winner for each class.
    Whew. "I still don't totally understand it all myself," Keers said after Autumn Haze picked up a "Best in Division," a "Best in Color" and a "Best Champion" from one judge. But she does know that the more points she earns with her ribbons, the closer her Champion comes to being a Grand Champion.
    "Showing cats is addictive. All you need is one rosette and you're hooked," said Donna Andrews, 61, of Atlanta. She, like many cat enthusiasts, tours the country toting her American wirehairs. And many of her cats have placed in top spots nationally.
    Some of the cat owners who frequent shows are breeders, some breeding more than one type of cat. But many competitors have a special place in their heart for a certain feline.
    Barbara Sinbine of Fort Pierce, for example, loves her British shorthairs, of which she brought five to the show on Saturday.
    "I choose them to begin with because they're healthy and their coats are the best," she said, running her fingers through the short, dense fur. "Also, it's the huge, big, round eyes they have."
    But, Sinbine admitted that showing and breeding cats isn't a money-making hobby.
    "I have been breeding since 1989 and I've never made any money," she said. "But it's a hobby. And you don't really expect to make money with a hobby."
    Keers also agreed that cat-showing isn't about money. It's about forming friendships, with people and pets. She said it can get a little crazy at times, though. "I use more conditioner on her hair than I do on my own," she said.
    The Cat Fancier's Championship Show continues today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Paramount Plaza Hotel.
    Alice Wallace can be reached at (352) 374-5036 or alice.wallace@gvillesun.com.

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