Open Up “ MEOW” and Say

NOR­WICH CAT SHOW BEN­E­FITS FE­LINES AND HU­MANS

The Day - Sound & Country - - Meow - By SU­SAN BAN­NING Day Staff Writer

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.

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