Fancy feline: Lilburn cat to compete in show

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

LILBURN -- J.T. scrunched up his face as his owner, C.A. Folds, used a soft, blue washcloth to clean around his eyes. Said Folds, as she gently held the cat in her kitchen sink. "He gets multiple face washings during the day."

J.T., meanwhile, was fairly unconcerned by the water, even sticking his head under the running faucet either by accident or, perhaps, on purpose.

"That's what happens when you start when they're really little," Folds said. "They don't know that cats are supposed to hate water."

J.T.'s tolerance of water is fortunate for both J.T. and Folds, as the Persian's pre-show bath required the application of four different products with rinses in between each.

Folds was grooming JohnTi Twilight (J.T. for short) Wednesday evening in anticipation of his appearance at the Cotton States Cat Club's 71st annual show today at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth.

The first product Folds worked into J.T.'s long, flowing coat was Goop, a waterless cleanser mechanics use to get grease off their hands.

"It is the best degreaser," Folds said. "And he is going to get a lot of Goop, especially back here behind his ears, where ear wax tends to collect."

Folds also concentrated on the white areas in J.T.'s coat.

"You have to be really careful or it yellows," Folds said.

What causes the yellowing?

"Time and rolling around in your food, drooling," she said.

After a thorough rinse, Folds applied Dawn dish washing detergent to J.T.'s fur -- it gets the oil out of his coat, she said -- followed by a good soaping with Pet Silk, a cat shampoo.

"I like to finish off with Clairol, this is a clarifying (formula)," Folds said, holding up a bottle of Herbal Essence shampoo, the fourth and final product in J.T.'s marathon bath.

After a final rinse, Folds bundled a soaking wet J.T. up in a towel and carried him down to the basement, where she keeps her cat dryer.

Folds used a silver comb to gently comb through his fur as the cat sat patiently in her lap, still partially wrapped in the towel, as the dryer did its job.

J.T., whom Folds is showing for the first time today since she got him, is a grand premiere. The grand signifies J.T. has acquired the specific number of points at shows to garner the title. He granded in just two shows with his breeder, a feat Folds said is a big deal.

Premiere is the classification for a neutered male cat older than 8 months.

The cat show will include three classifications of felines -- kittens 4- to 8-months-old, premiere, the classification in which J.T. will show, and championship, unneutered or unspayed cats older than 8 months.

The cats will all be judged by breed standards, which define the ideal characteristics of a specific breed.

Persians like J.T., Folds said, will be judged on their roundness.

"A Persian should be round all over. When you see a Persian you want to see a round head with tiny little ears that are offset, not right on top sticking out, but you want them down kind of low," Folds said. "They have big, round eyes and the nose should be sort of dead center between the eyes and tiny, very small nose. The whole head should be round."

A Persian's ideal body type is called cobby.

"It's short, it's very stout," Folds said. "They have short little legs and a short, kind of stubby but fluffy tail. The whole illusion is round, round, round."

J.T. will be competing for points during today's show, enough that Folds hopes will put him in the top 10 cats in the premiere classification.

Unlike the owners of winning racing horses, however, show cat owners don't receive monetary awards for their winning felines.

"You don't get money for having the best cat. You get ribbons," Folds said. "You do it just for the honor and the glory and the fun, and just because you love cats."