Lorin and I went to the Garden State Cat Show and Expo in Franklin, NJ on July 19. I’ve never been to a cat show before. We were quite smitten with a Singapura kitten that kept reaching her long skinny arms out of the cage. She reminded me of the alien in the movie Paul with her big blue eyes, oversized head and ears and skinny body. The furry homunculus could not have weighed more than a pound or two. Lorin put his face close to the cage, and she grabbed his nose with one tiny paw.
A stern-looking African-American man wearing a backpack and thick glasses sidled up to us and said, sotto voce, “The breeders don’t like you to touch their cats.” As if it were a state secret.
Lorin said, “We saw some signs that said. “Pet Me!” so we thought it was OK to touch them. We didn’t mean any harm.”
The man said, “The breeders don’t like you to touch their cats.”
I walked further on to visit the other contestants. Lorin caught up with me and said there was something not quite right with that man. He had tried to reason with the man, but to no avail. We wondered if he went to various cat shows and took it upon himself to police reprobates like us. Citizen Cat Police. We have been adopting needy cats for years and would never hurt them, but he didn’t know that.
Each breed had a row designated for them, consisting of two long parallel tables with tent-like cages on top. Some of the tent-enclosures were elaborately decorated with gauzy netting and colorful fabrics, giving them a kind of Thousand and One Nights feel.
These cats were pampered, but they deserved it. The cats waited (some reaching their paws through the bars in an attempt to escape) in cages on a rectangular shelf behind the judging area which consisted of a table—probably reminded them of an exam table at the vet’s office—and a pole covered with cardboard or bark for them to run up as a test of their spunk. The judges poked and prodded, pulled up their tails, fluffed their fur and checked all orifices. After examining each cat, she would spray the surface with Windex and wipe it down. One of the cats tried to flee while being judged. Can you blame him?
The cat agility tent had an obstacle course—hoops, loops, bars and cushy tunnels—to go through and under, but the cats had to be coaxed through them with a laser pointer, a wand with feathers on the end or some kind of treat. One cat climbed excitedly on top of the bouncy tunnel instead of through it, and seemed to have no idea what he was supposed to be doing. Others stared at the trainers/handlers as if they were nuts, rather than even bother to engage.
Later on we returned to Singapura Row and spoke with the owner of the kitten we liked. He said that Singapuras were incredibly affectionate, talkative and intelligent and would be your constant companion. He said the kitten curled herself around his neck and slept with him at night. We learned that “Singapura” is the Malaysian word for “Singapore,” the island country of their alleged origin. If she were our kitten, I think I’d name her Scheherezade (after the legendary Persian queen and storyteller), but we are well-stocked with felines. We don’t want to exceed the 4-cat limit and be known as the crazy cat people who go to cat shows.