The judges looked at every detail, from eye color and muscle tone to firm chin and pointed ears, all in search for the perfect cats in the show.
Eight judges examined and scored 150 felines during the cat show held this weekend at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.
The event was open to both pedigreed and household cats, featured cat agility demonstrations and costume and crowd favorite contests.
“It’s for all cats, not just fancy cats,” said Kathleen Lawton, a member of the Call of the Wild Cat Fanciers, which put on the cat show, considered the largest in the North Bay.
Cat enthusiasts traveled from all over California and the United States to take part, Lawton said, with some coming from Germany and Thailand.
Craig Thoele, 63, came from Hendersonville, North Carolina.
“Since I retired, this is what I do — cat pageants,” said Thoele, who’s part of a group of breeders that travels the world to attend cat shows.
This weekend, he was accompanied by a cream-colored British shorthair named Moonshine.
“For me, it’s the education. I like talking to the public, going through the characteristics (of cats),” said Thoele, who encourage eventgoers to pet the cats.
John Webster, a cat show judge for the past 13 years, said there were 43 different breeds at this year’s version, each with its own set of standards that judges look for.
Inbetween the judging on Sunday, Japanese bobtails, British shorthairs and Selkirk Rex cats relaxed on private hammocks, miniatures couches and fluffy fleece beds. Meanwhile, attendees peeked into the cats’ pop-up shelters.
Desiree Valenzano, her husband and three daughters were in search of the ugliest cat but were unsuccessful.
“So far, we haven’t found one,” her daughter, Kaighlei, 11, said.
“They’re cute and fluffy,” said Cierra, who’s 9.
The Santa Rosa family, which owns two tabbies, has attended the cat show for a few years.
It’s their love for “kitties” that keeps them coming back, said 8-year-old Leah, the youngest.
“It’s cheap and educational for the whole,” their mother said, and it’s a great place to pick up gifts for “that cat lover in your life.”
Nearly two dozens vendors lined the walls of the Grace Pavilion, selling wares from fuzzy cat toys to tote bags and socks with cat prints on them. A professional photographer also was on hand to take portraits of the furry contestants.
Several animal shelters had informational booths during the event.
Last year, Santa Rosa resident Missa Daoust and her daughter, Clover Geis, 9, adopted a black tabby named Charlotte while attending the cat show.
The mother-daughter duo returned to the show this year to give Charlotte a shot at the agility course. Charlotte wasn’t into it, though.
Clover tried to entice the tabby to jump through the hoops and over the hurdles with a red laser pointer, toy house and long feather. Clover eventually helped Charlotte, picking her up and carrying her through the hoops and over the hurdles before the cat decided to take a short break inside a yellow tunnel.
Feline agility coordinator Carolyn Withers, of Rohnert Park, stepped in, offering encouraging words to the girl and her mother.
“Something will work,” she said before handing Clover another cat toy to try.