Cat love was on full display Saturday at the Saintly City Cat Show in St. Paul, drawing more than 100 cat owners and hundreds of spectators from across the country.
Inside Exhibition Hall at RiverCentre, visitors donned all manner of feline-inspired attire — from cat-ear headbands to leopard-print ensembles and T-shirts bearing cat images and slogans.
Dick Irwin, the official cat show announcer, got into the act sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with this message: “Real men admit they love cats.” He always wears the shirt on Day One of the two-day contest to make a statement, he said, grinning.
Meanwhile, vendors hawked kitty litter, scratching posts, pet beds and peacock feathers for cat toys.
The 39th annual Saintly City Cat Show, part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival festivities, ends Sunday.
In all, 177 cats — mostly exotic, purebred types — are competing for colorful ribbons and “Best Cat” honors. But ordinary cats will take their turn in the spotlight, too. On Sunday, judges will choose the best male and female cat in the “Household Pet” category as “King” and “Queen,” and the royal winners will be presented with majestic capes and crowns.
This is Patricia Sudbeck’s first time entering a cat show.
On Saturday, she cradled her 6-month-old kitten, Mysticblu, in her arms as she strolled around the auditorium, answering questions about her Maine Coon purebred from admiring onlookers. “The Maine Coon is the largest domestic cat in North America,” explained Sudbeck, of Waconia.
Not only was this Sudbeck’s first cat show, this is the first time she’s ever owned a cat. “It’s going very well,” she said of her experience as a new cat owner.
Marsha Tjeerdsma is a veteran of cat shows. A South Dakota resident, she brought four cats including a Himalayan kitten named Easy Rider, whose cage was decorated with sequined curtains and a bright ribbon he’d just won on Saturday.
At one of the judging rings, judge Jan Stevens held up one of Jodi Ross’ pedigree kittens — a white fluff ball named Lacey with ice-blue eyes that seemed to melt Stevens immediately. “She is such a nice example of the breed,” the judge told the crowd. “She has a beautiful look out of those blue eyes.”