Feline show flaunts purr-fect contenders

Cats’ top rankings determine their value among breeders.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:01 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

Larry Swanson has judged more than 10,000 cats.

More than 1,000 paper towels were used to clean cages and display tables.

Linda Fisher will earn between $5,000 and $10,000 for kittens from her 2004 nationally ranked Persian, who defeated 12,000 cats to earn the ranking.

And there were more than a few hairballs left behind.

Despite the large numbers, Heather Fuller of the Tiger’s Lair Feline Fanciers club was disappointed with 128 registered cats that participated in Saturday’s cat show at Boone County Fairgrounds. Fuller was expecting about 200.

Much of cat showing comes down to numbers in the end. Fisher, of Kansas City, recognizes the importance of the numbers after 14 years of showing cats. She previously showed dogs, horses and birds.

“Cats are the most difficult, so I find them the most rewarding,” she said.

Fisher said the shows are an advertising opportunity — the better a cat does, based on the number of cats in the competition, dictates how renowned a cat is. The better known a cat is, the more money its offspring will bring. Breeds ranged from the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat in the longhair divisions to the Cornish Rex and Sphynx in the shorthair divisions in the Cat Fanciers’ Association competition, which is the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats.

Columbia is just another stop for Swanson, who has judged felines all over the world from Hong Kong to Europe. The Illinois native works about 20 shows a year, which adds up after 25 years in the business. His methodical review of each cat involves checking muscle tone, temperament, cleanliness and several other conditions, with some subjective comments recorded.

Swanson’s favorite breeds are Colorpoint Shorthair and Silver Persian because he won several national titles with those cats in the 1980s.

In addition to innumerable “meows,” applause was heard as awards were given out at each of the six judging rings. All cats were viewed and judged separately. Accolades were given for best in breed, best color, best overall and an assortment of other categories.

“CAT OUT!” was screamed when a cat would escape from the confines of a cage, grooming table or display area. A shuffle and quick cat track would ensue until the feline was found.

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