Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cats rule at Civic Center

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

For a few hours Saturday, the Frank Mayborn Civic and Convention Center was a fully operational cathouse.
Not one run by a madam, but one full of actual cats doing tricks (legal ones) for judges.
Not that the kitties put forth too much effort. The felines just sat there while a human poked, prodded and squeezed various parts of their bodies.
'The judges look at each cat's color, softness, grooming style and skull shape,' said Judy Yearsley, owner of Celeste, a silver mackerel competing in the Persian Open portion of yesterday's cat show sponsored by the Show and Tell Cat Club. 'Health is key. If the cat doesn't feel well, then it won't be at its best.' Manners and stature are also evaluated, according to a flier describing the event.
Ms. Yearsley has been in the recreational business of show cats for 15 years.
'I have to help some find forever homes,' Ms. Yearsley said, describing her cat crew nearing retirement. 'Some of them are too old for showing. After that, I'll have eight or nine left.'
Ms. Yearsley and her cats live on a farm in Ben Arnold, a town seven miles north of Cameron.
'Ten is really too many,' Ms. Yearsley admitted, smiling.
The 100 cats competing were divided into three categories: Kitten, for cats aged between four and eight months; Champion, for 'whole cats' not spayed or neutered; and Premier, for those adult cats who had been spayed or neutered.
Within each category, the cats are grouped according to breed, explained Laura Boot of Corpus Christi, one of the show managers.
'Then they're evaluated by six judges,' Ms. Boot said. 'Each judge looks at each cat, one at a time.'
That meant a lot of free time for kitty and kitty keeper.
But nobody got too restless.
Some of the kitty keepers kept busy by brushing kitty's fur and offering warm words of encouragement.
'You can do it, sweetie,' said one lady dressed in a gown of kitty-print fabric. 'Oooh. I love you. I do.'
Other kitty keepers passed the time with a book or a cell phone. Some napped like their four-legged counterparts.
There wasn't too much meowing going on, just a bunch of patient cats waiting for the chance to win some prizes - a bag full of cat toys and a big ribbon.

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