Cat show to feature perfect, ‘not so perfect’ cats

When Larry Hatteberg went to the Wichita Cat Fancy cat show two years ago, it was not with the intention of adopting a cat.

“I hadn’t been to the cat show for years, and my grandkids wanted to go,” said Hatteberg, a journalist for KAKE-TV in Wichita.

“They loved looking at the exotic breeds” – the Persians with pushed-in faces and the round-bodied Manxes with no tails.

But as they were leaving, Hatteberg noticed some cats available for adoption through local rescue groups.

“One cage had this very forlorn looking cat,” he said. “It was not friendly and was very shy. It was kind of sitting at the back of the cage. …

“My heart went out, or I felt sorry for it,” Hatteberg said. “I decided to get that cat. I thought, ‘that cat needs a friend.’ ”

Most people come to the cat show to check out the picture-perfect show cats, said Mary Beth Wegerle, secretary of Wichita Cat Fancy. About 150 cats will be at this year’s show, representing 31 breeds including Persian, Maine Coon, Egyptian Mau, Sphynx and Norwegian Forest Cat.

But calling attention to the “not so perfect” cats, “the ones that kind of get overlooked,” is also what the cat show is all about, Wegerle said.

Lifeline Animal Placement and Protection (LAPP) and Pals Animal Rescue will bring 15 adoptable cats to the show, which is Saturday and Sunday at the Cotillion. The show, affiliated with the Cat Fanciers’ Association, features cat judging, cat-related vendors and information about caring for feral cats.

Ellen Querner, director of Pals, remembers the cat that Hatteberg adopted.

“We’d had that cat for a long time,” she said. “We brought her on the chance maybe we could adopt her. We were so thrilled when we did.”

The cat did not show well at pet stores, where Pals and LAPP take cats so adopters can meet them.

“Some can’t take the stress of staying in the cage at PetSmart and having everybody walk up to them,” Querner said.

This particular cat, whom Hatteberg has named Buddy, “didn’t like everybody poking at it,” Querner said. “It would get upset and hiss after the 10th person stuck their fingers in the cage.

“Cats are pretty independent. They want to pick and choose who they like, and she liked Larry Hatteberg.”

Hatteberg said Buddy took a couple of months to become completely comfortable in her new home but has become a beloved companion to him and his wife, Judy. “She’s a wonderful part of the house, a member of the family,” he said.

A lot of cats don’t present their best image at pet stores or in shelters, said Adriane Meeks, a volunteer with LAPP, a no-kill shelter.

Cats that suddenly find themselves homeless, through no fault of their own, are often traumatized, she said.

“They’ve been in a home, then they’re given up and put in a shelter. Then they’re yanked out and put in a pet store in a cage with people poking and prodding,” Meeks said.

“I wish people would remember that they’re not going to be the same personality that you see in the cage” after they have been adopted into a home, she said.

Two cats that Meeks hopes will find a new home are Flour and Mocha, female Snowshoes – a rare breed with stunning blue eyes and white feet. The cats were surrendered after a divorce and have been with LAPP for 6 months to a year, she said.

“They’ve never known another environment other than the breeder’s and a home. At the pet store, they were literally shaking, they were so scared.”

Flour and Mocha are beautiful cats that enjoy attention, Meeks said. She’d like to see them adopted together because they’re sisters and “they stick together,” she said.

Another cat Meeks will bring to the show is India, a petite, compact Bombay that’s “pure black with copper eyes.”

India came to LAPP with a fractured bottom jaw after she was “deliberately kicked,” Meeks said.

She’s 6 or 7 years old, a polydactyl – with six toes on each foot – and “a real sweetie,” she said. “She’s my favorite out of all the cats here.”

Between its shelter and foster homes, LAPP has about 250 cats available for adoption, Meeks said. “We have everything from Siamese to Persians to Ragdolls,” she said. Most of all, “we have an overabundance of mackerel tabbies and a lot of black cats.”

Pals Animal Rescue has 40 cats available and will bring 10 each day to the cat show, in the hopes of finding new homes for them.

“The cat show is a good place to feature some of our kitty cats that are wonderful but just not easy to show,” Querner said.

“We try to bring as many as we can to give them all a chance to be seen.”