Prepare for the invasion Saturday.
Two hundred twenty-five cats from throughout the United States are expected to converge on the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center for the Greater Baton Rouge Cat Club’s 42nd annual Cat Show, sponsored by the Cat Fanciers Association.
Abyssinians, Russian Blues, Sphynxes, Maine Coons, Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs —- they’ll all be there. Look for some Ragdolls, Chartreux, Persians and Siberians, too.
But Ragamuffin fans may be a little disappointed.
“We won’t have any this year,” Larry Johnson says. “We had some last year, but the lady who brings them lives in Texas, and she’s sick this year. So, she won’t be making the trip.”
Johnson is the club’s president and organizer of this event, which features categories not only for specific breeds but one for household cats, as well.
“We always offer this category,” Johnson says. “People can enter their household cats, which are judged on their personalities and how well they’re maintained. It’s a lot of fun.”
It’s also fun for visitors to walk around and see some of the rare cat breeds. The aforementioned Chartreux, a rare domestic breed originating from France, are known for their blue-gray, water resistant, double-coated short hair.
And the structure of their heads with tapered muzzles gives them the appearance of a smile.
There’s yet one other fun fact about this breed, though it won’t be apparent in the show — Chartreux are exceptional hunters and therefore are highly prized by farmers.
The Chartreux made its Greater Baton Rouge Cat Club show debut in 2014.
“We’ll also have some Ocicats,” Johnson says.
The Ocicats’ name derives from its resemblance to the ocelot, a dwarf leopard. Both are known for their spotted coats, yet the Ocicat is not related to any wildcat. The breed actually originated from the mixing of Siamese and Abyssinian breeds.
And though the Maine Coon wouldn’t be considered rare, they definitely will make an appearance. Johnson is making sure of that.
“I have a Maine Coon,” he says. “His name is Pumpkin. I entered him when he was a kitten, and I thought that this would be a good time to enter him again. I will enter him just for the joy of having him in the show.”
Johnson not only will be pulling double duty in coordinating the competition while entering his own competitor, he’ll also be taking portraits. He’s the owner of Johnson Photography, and his specialty is animal portraiture.
And while Johnson is searching for the perfect background to emphasize the eye color of a Siamese of the coat of a Russian Blue, several judges will be making the rounds.
“Each judges independently,” Johnson says. “They judge all the cats in the show, and in the end, they award ribbons to the top 10 cats. One cat will receive the Overall Best award in the end.”
Last year, that award went to a Russian Blue. A Birman won the Kitten award, and a Chartreux won the Premiere award for rare breeds. Finally, a calico cat took top honors in the Household division.
“Cat shows don’t have some of the exciting things that dog shows have,” Johnson says. “In dog shows, the owner runs around with the dogs so the judges can watch the dog’s gait. They can see if the dog is limping of if there’s something off about the gait. But you can’t do that in cat shows, because you’re just not going to get a cat to run around an arena on a leash.”
Still, there are some cats that are leashed trained from early ages.
“And there are shows that feature owners running with cats that have been trained,” Johnson says. “But ours won’t have that.”
But visitors will be able to see judges interact with cats, taking inventory of the cats’ maintenance and gauging their personalities. Visitors also will have the chance to meet with rescue groups Cat Haven, the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society and Project Purr Baton Rouge, which will offer cats for adoption.
Food, gift and pet supply booths also will be available.
And it all begins with the convergence of cats on the expo center.