Photos: Fur-midable felines take center stage at St. Paul cat show

Two cats wear royal garb.
The king and queen of household cats are crowned at the Saintly City Cat Show at Roy Wilkins Exhibition Hall at the St. Paul RiverCentre Sunday. At left is King Rio, an exotic cat owned by Meghan Evans of Winnipeg, Canada. At right is Queen Faustina of Andedie, owned by Andrea Cobb.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

There’s no royalty like cat royalty.

This weekend, the Saintly City Cat Club hosted its 47th annual cat show at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Held in conjunction with the Winter Carnival, it’s Minnesota’s biggest cat show. 

Over 140 cats were entered for the competition, representing more than 38 different breeds. An organizer estimates up to 8,000 people attend every year. 

“This is a celebration of animals,” said cat owner Talitha Waldner, who entered two Persian cats in the competition. “It is a sport. It’s one of the funnest hobbies you can have.”

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Waldner said it’s a good way to spend more time with her pets, while being in community with others who are as cat crazy as she is.

“For me, it’s kind of a fact of life,” said show manager Linda Mae Baker, who has been in the cat show scene for over 30 years and notes the show also promotes neuter and spay, and general good health for cats. 

A cat plays with a cat toy.
Helen Sevig plays with her cat Mooncake, a Scottish Fold breed, in between the judging moments. Mooncake had already won six Best Kitten awards at the Saintly City Cat Show.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Purebred cats are assessed by specific standards set for their breed by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. For example, a Persian would be judged for its roundness — round eyes, head and body — while an Oriental shorthair is expected to be long and sleek. Household cats, comprised of mix breeds, are judged foremost for having good health, and then per the judge’s preferences. 

There are eight different judges who bring their own opinions and interpretations of standards. At different booths, they feel and play with cats in front of gathered crowds, while sharing their observations aloud.  

A cat eats a treat.
Rayla, a Sphinx cat, licks a treat offered by her owner while waiting between judging.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Judge Barbara Jaeger from Arizona said her favorite is when a cat loves being in the show. She has been in the Cat Fancy for over 40 years. Now retired, she travels internationally to judge cat shows once or twice a month. 

“I love being a cat show judge. You know, it’s hysterically fun,” Jaeger said. 

Joel Olson competed with his 4-year-old Bengal cat, Bambam. He is a judicial officer for Ramsey County and a Bengal cat breeder on the side “basically for an excuse to have kitties in our house at all time.” 

“We make enough to pay for the food and the vet bills and then have some more kittens,” he said with laugh. 

Olson said the cat shows are a good way to ensure their cats meet standards, while dispelling fears about the cats, which he said are often compared to cheetahs for the black and gold spots called rosettes on their fur. 

MPR News asked attendees if they believed cats were better than dogs, but no one believed that tall tale. Olson said he somewhat prefers cats because they are less needy. However, many participants also owned dogs. 

“In the words of an old Saintly City member who’s since passed on, dog people are dog people. Cat people love all animals,” Baker said.