You could almost see this one coming, a New Orleans festival that celebrates cats. This past weekend, the city experienced its first Internet Cat Video Festival.
Spearheaded by longtime veterinarian Karen Miller Becnel, of Metairie Cat Hospital, and Lynn Chiche, founder of SpayMart, the feline festival centered on an artful collection of hilarious Internet cat videos compiled by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
The New Orleans Museum of Art provided theater space for several viewings throughout the day. Each showing was to a capacity crowd of 200 catheads who paid $12 each to view big-screen furry stars in action like Grumpy Cat, the aloof tuxedoed Frenchman with attitude, Monsieur Henri and Hamilton the Hipster. For the record, every viewing was a sellout, with proceeds dedicated to the cause of feline health, rescue and medical research.
“We hope to make this an annual event in New Orleans,” Chiche said. “The support has been overwhelming thanks to all of the wonderful vendors and artists out here today. Each one of them has committed to donate 25 percent of festival sales to support this important cause.”
She said one of the primary goals is to raise the status of cats in our community.
“Cats are complex beings possessing just right mixture of love, amusement and independence. They instill in us a sense of tranquility,” Chiche said.
Veterinarian and founder of Art for Cats’ Sake Karen Miller Becnel reminded me that the festival is designed to raise awareness as well as funds. As a former cat owner myself, I asked Becnel to let us in on why she believes cats are so special.
“I guess the first thing people should know about cats is just how much they truly do love their owners. If you are one of those people who doesn’t like cats, well I say, you just haven’t met the right cat.”
It was inevitable that the Internet Cat Video Festival would land in New Orleans. Besides the video showings, there was plenty of kitty art for the fancy, delicious food and cooling refreshments.
Wes Raymond and the Soul Factory entertained, and there were a variety of tabby-themed contests including a costume competition that some festers really got into.
Conspicuously absent from the festivities were any felines who probably didn’t want to be bothered showing up for their own party. There were, however, a few canine spottings in the crowd. Only dogs would be dumb enough to be out and about on one the hottest days of the summer so far.
All jokes aside, it was great fun no matter what side of feline/canine fence you’re on.
La Vie de Ville captures city life New Orleans style every Thursday in The New Orleans Advocate’s Crescent City News section. For your coverage of your community news event, submit details in advance to RobertaGrove@hotmail.com Photos and story by Roberta Grove.