Cats joining the fray at annual NYC dog fête
Organizers of the Westminster Dog Show are making room for a potentially controversial addition to this year’s festivities: Cats.
About 40 feline breeds are set to appear at an event affiliated with Westminster the weekend before the dog show itself.
The event, “Meet the Breeds,” gives the public a chance to talk with purebred breeders and connect with the animals.
About 130 dog breeds are also scheduled to participate at the all-day February 11 event, which is jointly organized by the Westminster Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club.
News of the cat addition to the iconic dog fête prompted quips on social media about “the apocalypse;” however cats will not be participating in the dog show itself.
Potential pet owners will have free reign, but organizers plan to strictly enforce a separate-but-equal policy between the species. Several hundred cats and dogs are expected in total.
“It is not a ‘when doggy meets kitty,’” said AKC spokeswoman Brandi Hunter. “We’re taking the proper safety precautions to make sure both cats and dogs feel comfortable and safe and at ease.”
“It is a lot for people to come at them so we don’t want to put them in any other stressful situations,” she added.
The Westminster show dates to 1876 and is the nation’s most prestigious purebred dog competition. In recent years, organizers have added agility and obedience competitions opened to mixed breed dogs in a period known unofficially as “Westminster Weekend.” Other canine friendly events also are held during the period, including a dog fashion show, which benefits charity.
Until 2015, the AKC held “Meet the Breeds” later in the season around October. Cats participated when the event was held in the fall, but this year will be the first time they will be part of the February events.
Westminster concludes on February 14 with the awarding of “Best in Show.”