By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The Persian cat named Pink Parasol was primped and pampered – waiting for her time to shine on the cat show stage at the Bowling Green Community Center on Saturday.
She was stretched out on cushions, with a coffee filter as a collar around her neck to keep the rest of her coat clean. Next to Pink Parasol was her stage kit – with a spray can of static guard, cosmetic powder, makeup brushes and pads to cover up last minute dirt, and Tic Tac mints.
“That’s for me,” owner Zayda Stephens, of Lansing, Michigan, said of the Tic Tacs.
Pink Parasol was one of about 120 pets at the Cat Fanciers Show held in Bowling Green. The felines and their owners came to compete from several states – New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
The shows are a way of life for many of the cat fanciers and their felines.
Stephens takes her cats to about three shows a month. And since her cats are Persians, the primping is very time consuming. The cats are bathed twice a week, then blown dry with a professional hair dryer.
Pink Parasol, with her 7-inch long hair that makes her look about twice as big as she is, can take up to two hours to dry properly, Stephens said.
Most of the breeders at the show pick one type of cat and work to perfect the breed. For Stephens, that’s Persians.
“They have a very sweet personality,” which includes a laid back lifestyle, she said. Persians are known for their daily brief energy spurt of about 15 minutes, then they are ready to rest again. “They don’t climb the curtains.”
Stephens has been breeding Persians for about 15 years. She confessed it is very difficult to part with kittens – but added that it’s better for them to not have to share an owner with too many others.
“It’s best if they can have their own lap,” she said.
The cat show was put on by the Cat Fanciers Association, which has been the “premier” cat organization since 1906, according to the show organizer, Debbie Allgire of Bowling Green. Six judging stations were set up for the competition.
In addition to the long-haired Persians, there were several other breeds like the “oriental short hairs,” the Japaneses Bobtail, the completely tailless Manx, the rough-coated American Wire-haired, and the less common Aussies.
Allgire watched as her Tonkinese cat, named D.B. Cooper, competed in the oriental short-hair category.
The judge Rachel Anger, checked each feline from every angle, judging them on the Cat Fancier standards of having long tubular bodies, fur that looks like it’s painted on, triangular heads, no dips in the noses, and green eyes.
Some cats were more cooperative than others. Anger used a variety of cat toys to get their attention and check their reactions. At the same time, the judge was aware that some of the cats were performing for the crowd.
“Work the room girl, that’s how you do it,” she said to a cat named Summer Breeze.
The cats seemed to take the spotlight in stride.
That is because most of them were raised with cat shows in mind, said Charissa Ebersole, of Toledo, whose cat named Fairy Fires Cloud Nine, was competing. From the time her cats are just a few weeks old, Ebersole plays loud heavy metal music to get them accustomed to noise.
The cat owners love to talk about their pampered pets. But many refused to reveal exactly how many cats they have back home.
“Numbers are not important,” one owner said.
The cat names rival those of well-bred race horses.
Carolyn Vogel, of Kentucky, brought Persians to the show. There was her black ball of hair called Dress Code, born to his mother named Paisley Dress, his father named Vegas Odds, and this sister named Vegas Mirage.
Vogel, who shows her cats at about 20 shows a year, combs them daily, and provides them with pretty swanky settings at cat shows. Two were lounging on hot pink cushions with curtains sporting sequins and lace.
“They are beautiful,” Vogel said, stroking Dress Code’s coat. “I like cats that have a lot of coat.”
And they are not overly active.
“A Persian was created to be a lap cat,” Vogel said.
The owners don’t compete for monetary prizes – but just for ribbons and prestige.
Gary Veach, of New Jersey, judges cat shows. But on Saturday, his Manx cats were competing. The Manx are all tailless – born that way due to a natural mutation, he said. They have round bodies and round heads.
“She’s like a little polar bear,” Veach said.
And their conduct is different than many cats.
“They are very dog-like in their behaviors,” including playing fetch, Veach said.
One of his Manx, named Mockingjay (which he calls MJ), was being looked over by cat show judge Gary Powell.
“You’ve got a good motor,” Powell said about MJ’s purr.
“She’s ranked number one in the country,” Veach whispered about MJ as he watched the judge examine the prize Manx.
The judge said very little as he looked over MJ, checking her coat, and her reactions to toys. But Powell’s silence wasn’t a sign of disapproval.
“Oh, he likes her,” Veach said. And he was right, with MJ walking away with the “best of breed” ribbon.
After the judging, MJ was returned to her crate with zebra-print bedding, and an exterior adorned with more than a dozen good luck charms.
Veach reached in to get another Manx named Helluva Bottom Carter for her time for competition. To prep her for judging, he gently used a tiny implement around her eyes. When asked if he was removing eye “goo,” Veach responded indignantly, “there is no eye goo.”
Then he spritzed on some spray conditioner. “I’m just freshening her up,” he said.
Veach also has two dogs at home – a toy poodle and an 18-year-old Italian Greyhound.
As for how many cats he has … “That’s a question I don’t answer,” he said with a grin.