Also clawing their way to the top were several munchkins, which have Dachshund-like half-legs that enable them to run backwards; a Selkirk rex, with the coat of a sheep; a LaPerm, a longhair that has been described as "what might happen if you threw a cat and an electric toaster into a bathtub"; and Bar-B Battle Hymn of Java, a groomed Persian. "Eight out of ten people think he's stuffed," said Lise Girard, who groomed him at the Java Cat Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "I have people asking me if he's freeze-dried."
But how do the cats feel? "Some of them revel in their exoticness and some of them see it as a liability," said Lydia Hiby, the show's official pet psychic. "I've talked to some cats that are very beautiful, and, as we sometimes expect of beautiful people, we expect they don't have a brain - and they get annoyed about that."
Hiby was one of the judges of the popular "Supercat" category, open only to formerly homeless cats. "We call this the Cinderella event because these cats have risen from the ashes to become champions," the MC announced. Formerly down-on-their-paws, the cats proudly competed for longest whiskers, most impressive tails and which looked most like its owner. Though she didn't win, we rooted for Triple, who has a bad liver, a problem with acne, has had an emergency hysterectomy, and whose face is paralysed. When she meows she "looks like Elvis Presley", as her owner says.
The good vibe in the hall was almost as thick as the smell of kitty litter. "Isn't it great to be around so many cat people!" enthused one judge. And when the announcement was made that "Ladies and gentlemen, there's a cat loose. If everybody would keep very quiet and not move," everyone actually froze. Stephen Rae
Photographs by Leslie FratkinReuse content