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Cat owners primp felines for competition at Gwinnett Center

Cats from around the U.S. traveled for the 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show

Dave Stuart of Waxhaw, N.C., combs his Himalayan, Simon Says, before entering the ring at the 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show at the Convention Center at Gwinnett Center. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)

Dave Stuart of Waxhaw, N.C., combs his Himalayan, Simon Says, before entering the ring at the 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show at the Convention Center at Gwinnett Center. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)

IF YOU GO

• What: 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show

• When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

• Where: Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth

• Cost: $6 to $8

• For more information: Visit www.cottonstatescatclub.org

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On Saturday afternoon, Jo Ann Miksa-Blaskwell judges a round of Devon Rex kittens at the 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)

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Several kittens, including these Orientals, are on sale at the 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show in Duluth. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)

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Bug, a Devon Rex, poses for the camera during the 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show Saturday afternoon at the Convention Center at Gwinnett Center. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)

DULUTH — Simon Says lives a pampered life. He is groomed, primped and fed like a king.

It’s not because he’s a spoiled cat. His owners want the Himalayan in the best shape for competition.

“There’s a lifetime of hard work,” Dave Stuart said about his cat while competing at the 75th annual Cotton States Cat Show. “By the time you start a cat and bathing them, for a show cat, you should bathe them twice a week coming up to the show. But it’s a three hour process each time you do it. That’s just the grooming side of it. Then you have the feeding side and maintaining the whole cat.”

But the extra care doesn’t bother Stuart. He and his wife, Hope, of Waxhaw, N.C., have been showing off cats for the past five years.

“I’ve always loved white-haired, blue-eyed cats. That was our first love. The second was to go to cat shows to make fun of cat show people,” Stuart said with a laugh, since they are now “cat show people.” “We just love to improve the breed standard and love the look of the cats, that’s why we have Himalayans.”

Short-haired cats have it a little easier when it comes to the grooming department.

Lisa Yeary traveled from Huntsville, Ala., to show off her Selkirk Rexes. The breed is a larger-boned cat with curly fur and whiskers. With the unique look, she doesn’t spend hours getting the felines ready for the shows.

“These are more wash and wear. I bathed them and scrunch most of the water off with a towel,” Yeary said. “I put them in the carrier and they dried on the way here. It’s not like the Persians and some of the other long-hair breeds that you need to dry (with a blow dryer). The less you try to comb because you just want to scrunch. We aim for bedhead here. We don’t want to mess with it too much.”

During the two-day event, the felines who enter the contest are divided up in three categories: kittens (4 to 8 months old), champions (8 months and older, not fixed) and premiers (8 months and older, spayed or neutered). Judges examine each cat, 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.”

“Bottom line is it’s a fun hobby and we get to go away together as a couple,” Stuart said. “We have some 20 cats and kittens. You multiply all that up and it’s a lot of TLC. It’s a wonderful hobby. We love it.”

Today, 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 different no-kill shelters will be present with animals to adopt and information about each shelter.