Open Up “ MEOW” and Say
NORWICH CAT SHOW BENEFITS FELINES AND HUMANS
TThis time, it’s the animals’ turn to benefit the humans. The grace and beauty of hundreds of cats will take over Kelly Middle School in Norwich on Sept. 20-21 as the MysTICAts Cat Club stages a 12-ring All Breed and Household pet show there.
And it’s all for the good of the cats’ fellow man, woman and child.
One dollar from every admission ($6 for adults, $4 for seniors or children 12 and under) will go to the St. Vincent De Paul Food Bank in Norwich. Helping Paws, a 501c3 charitable organization based in Colchester that does cat rescue, benefits from the remaining proceeds.
“We would love nothing better than to be able to turn over $2,000 to the food bank at the end of the weekend, and we can do that if we have the support of the community,” said Rene Knapp, president of Helping Paws.
Knapp’s paying job is with the Department of Children and Families, which initiated a food drive several months ago when the food bank ran out of many food items and the soup kitchen had to cut its meal schedule to one a day. With her involvement in TICA (The International Cat Association) and previous cat shows she has helped stage in Norwich, she got the idea to make this year’s effort the “Cats Helping People” project.
“(With the show), we are working within the community to be part of the community,” Knapp said. “My feral cat colonies are in Norwich, and I feel very close to the city. They have always supported Helping Paws. We’re going to give back, too, by making a donation from the show to Kelly Middle School.”
The economy has taken a toll on both a depleted reserve at the food bank and the resources of Helping Paws.
“My donations are down 40 percent, and there are more cats than I’ve had in the 12 years I’ve done this,” Knapp said. “People are being forced from their homes and apartments and leaving the cats behind. Every time I turn around, an apartment complex is calling with more abandoned cats. And the people who keep their pets, a lot of them can’t afford the spaying and neutering in this economy, so there are more unwanted kittens.”
It is Knapp’s hope, then, that everyone will benefit from this TICA-sanctioned cat show with 12 judges from all over the country overseeing the categories. It’s an interactive event, with the judges talking to the spectators, explaining what their standards are and presenting the cats in just the way you envision.
More than 200 cats from all over the world will be on hand, and it isn’t just those vain sorts that seem to have stepped out of “Cat Fancy.” House cats are also represented in their own class and will have a chance to win honors just like their purebred cousins.
Raffles at the show will benefit Helping Paws (the Milo raffle alone, named in honor of Knapp’s late beloved pet and Helping Paws spokescat, routinely raises $1,000), and vendors will be on hand with goodies for humans and felines. The Kelly Middle School PTO will sell snacks, too.
Previous Helping Paws shows were held at the Holiday Inn in Norwich, but Knapp anticipates the new venue will be an asset because it is much more spacious. The show is in the gym and cafeteria, with the vendors and benefit tables in the hallways between the two.
“This is also good because we can accept more cat entries,” Knapp said. “I had to stop at 225 last year because it would have been too cramped. Here, we can have 250 cats, which is more money for the cause.”
If looking at all of these cats gives you a pang because you’re missing a feline friend, the Connecticut Humane Society’s Newington branch is at the rescue at the show. There will be an adoption van on site both days. You can also help homeless cats and dogs by bringing food that will go to the Humane Society.
Unlike many events that depend upon a clear day for success, Knapp would be fine with overcast skies and some precipitation.
“Not a downpour, but too drizzly to go to the beach or do yard work,” she said. “That would be great for our attendance, which means everyone is going to benefit.”
In the 12 years Knapp has run Helping Paws, she has seen 3,000 cats adopted out. That’s a lot of happy homes.
ABOVE, THIS ABYSSINIAN NAMED KHAMSIN MOONSHADOW IS JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF THE MANY BREEDS THAT WILL BE AT THE SHOW SEPT. 20-21. OPPOSITE PAGE, THE HUGE SPOTTED CAT IS KNOWN AS AN F2 SAVANNAH, AND HE WILL BE ON HAND AT THE CAT SHOW. YOU CAN BRING YOUR CAMERA AND HAVE YOUR PHOTO TAKEN WITH HIM. THE HAIRLESS CAT IS A SPHINX NAMED CLASSICALCATS MERRICK.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HELPING PAWS.