27 August 2017

Cool Canberra Cats: everyone's a winner

| Maryann Mussared
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Award-winning Siberian cat Zorro is a seasoned cat show contestant.

One of the things I love about Canberra is there is so much to do on the weekend, and often it is free or just a gold coin donation. When I heard about the Cool Country Cat Club Inc inaugural “Sound of Meowsic” cat show at the Harmonie German Club, I decided this was going to be great entertainment on a cold winter’s day. The event was organised by a group of enthusiastic local and regional breeders from all over Canberra, Harden and Bungendore, and the Club was a warm venue with a spacious hall and plenty of parking. Featuring national and international judges, the event showcased some wonderful rare breeds, along with breeds we already love, currently being bred in the region. Each and every cat was looking their best: carefully brushed, primped and preened in the hope of catching the judge’s eye.

Our lives are dominated by trends: these range from the clothes we wear, cars we drive, to the dogs we take out for a walk. It is fairly easy to see what dogs are currently in favour. Just take yourself down to any of Canberra’s off-leash dog parks and check out the current favourites: cavoodles, labradoodles, groodles, beagles, basset hounds, English bull terrier, labradors, and lots of chirpy little and not so little rescue dogs. But because cats are so well concealed in suburban gardens and apartments, it is less easy to know what breed of cat is currently in fashion. This was my chance to find out what are the popular breeds of felines currently on the block.

Trendy, a red classic tabby Maine Coone, already a big kitty at only 7 months, was very friendly and relaxed.

The first time I went to a cat show in the 1970s, it was in the undercroft of the Sydney Town Hall: I was in search of a Siamese kitten. Long before the internet, the best way to find a pedigree kitten or cat was to go to a cat show, walk around and see who had signs saying “Kittens Available”, or finding a gorgeous cat, asking if the owner was planning to breed, and placing an ‘expression of interest’ in a future kitten. In those days, the choice was pretty much Siamese, Persian, and Chinchilla, then along came playful Burmese, adorable Birman and pretty Rag Dolls. I had no success obtaining a pedigree kitten that day and I eventually ended up with a little rescue cat who lived to the grand age of 21. So it is only recently that I started looking around at what was available. While on a holiday in France a few years ago, I went to a huge cat show on the outskirts of Paris. Here I came across breeds I had only ever read about: Maine Coon, Bengal, Chartreux, Munchkin and more.

This enormous Paris Cat Show featured over 600 cats. In true French style, the breeders set up tables and had a catered meal with wine served for lunch.

The cat that caught my eye was a big handsome blue Norwegian Forest Cat whose eyes followed me as I walked back and forth, admiring him. When I arrived back in Australia, I went in search of breeders of this majestic cat, and I am now the happy owner of two delightful Norwegian Forest Cats and another rescue cat.

As anticipated, cat trends have changed and the cats that are now ‘trending’ have Russian origins. This rare and regal seal-point male Peterbald (they lose their fur aged two and are left with a soft velour-like coat) Elisey, was imported from Russia two years ago. A hugely handsome prize-winning Siberian called Zorro has been imported from Russia and is now father and grandfather to a number of feline offspring in the Canberra region. Other unusual breeds were an American Shorthair, Scottish Fold and both Cornish and Devon Rex cats.

As soon as I saw how many prizes and giveaways there were, I regretted not entering at least one of my Norwegian Forest Cats. However, the upside was I was able to enjoy all the other cats and was pleased each time a cat that I had played and fallen in love with, won some sort of prize. The sponsors, Royal Canin and Oz-Pet, were generous and I am sure not one kitty went home empty-pawed, even if it was some treats, or a sample of cat food to try.

Everybody loves a winner, and Tzarina, a playful and affectionate Siberian, was thrilled to receive a ribbon.

As the owner of three cats, I know it is not possible to ever have enough toys. I don’t know where the black hole is in my house but many mice and balls have disappeared, so I weakened and decided some of these very realistic looking fish were to be added to our toy collection.

The highlight of the afternoon was the prize-giving. The judges had worked long and hard to make a number of difficult decisions and they had been thorough in their assessment of breeding, temperament and the alertness of the cat. Selecting the Supreme Champion of the show was no easy task, but this very soft and cuddly British Blue, Hazendorf Stolen Looks, was a popular choice!

And finally, the humble house cat was not excluded. This little companion cat sat very patiently through the whole show and was rewarded with best in his class.

Keep an eye out for more cat shows in the ACT. The long-running Birman Show will be on again on 19 May 2018 at the Wesley Uniting Church: the Birman breed will be celebrating 50 years of breeding in Australia. The Cool Country Cat Club Cat Show will also be on again, probably in August, and they may have a second show. Don’t forget, if you are interested in acquiring a pedigree cat, a cat show is a great chance to meet the dames and sires of future litters. You will also enjoy the excitement of the judging, meet seasoned feline professionals who know how to flirt, and some who might be new to shows but are naturals and just love the attention.

Do you own or long to own an unusual or even popular breed of cat? Please share in the comments below.

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