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Competing cats return to Gwinnett Center

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Special Photo Jesse, a tuxedo cat in the arms of Renee Cardona from Furkids, won an award at last year's Cotton State Cat Show.

IF YOU GO

• What: 74th annual Cotton States Cat Show

• When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

• Where: Convention Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth

• Cost: $5 to $8

• For more information: Visit www.cottonstatescatclub.org

DULUTH — This weekend will be full of hair balls, catnip and toy mice as the Gwinnett Center is invaded by cats competing in the 74th annual Cotton States Cat Show on Saturday and Sunday.

Owners of Persians, Devon Rexes, Maine Coons and other breeds will spend at least an hour primping their furry friends to enter the ring.

“Well, the time it takes depends on the type of cat,” said C.A. Folds, member of Cotton States Cat Club. “Long-haired cats like Persians ... receive a show bath at least once a week.”

That entails several washes with some sort of degreaser, then a conditioning shampoo, finished with a volumizing shampoo — all products used on humans. Owners will dry the cat with a blow dryer while combing the fur at the same time, which prevents matted fur.

Before the kitties can hit the limelight, they also need a clean face and ears, plus trimmed nails. In this specific show, the cats cannot be declawed.

“It’s a barbaric act,” Folds said. “It’s like chopping off the first digits of your fingers.”

The felines who enter the contest are divided up in three categories: kittens (four to eight months old), champions (eight months and older, not fixed) and premiers (eight months and older, spayed or neutered). Eight judges examine each cat during the two-day show, giving awards out in each class. They each choose the top 10 cats and kittens to look at for “Best in Show.” The judges will individually give out awards and some cats may win more than once.

The felines rack up points that accumulate over the year. At the end of the judging season, points are tallied and the cats with the highest marks win within separate categories. The top award is the Cat Fanciers’ Association’s “Cat of the Year.”

On Saturday, the crowd has a chance to watch something else besides the fancy felines because a legendary singer will be in the building.

“Elvis is coming,” Folds said with a laugh. “It happens that one of our relatively new club members has an uncle who is a performer ... and looks like Elvis. He passes out teddy bears at the end of the show. I think the people will be entertained and amused.”

Cotton States Cat Club is expecting more than 1,000 spectators to show up for the competition. Attendees have a chance to join raffles to win cat prizes, such as toys, treats, clothes, mats and more.

Vendors will set up shop offering items “that you can’t get in a regular retail store,” and 10 different no-kill shelters will be present with animals to adopt and information about each shelter.