Nearly 1,700 feline fanciers walked through the doors of the Oak Lawn Pavilion over the weekend to contemplate the kitties gathered for the Lincoln State Cat Club's 48th annual All Breed Cat Show.
More than 160 cats representing 21 breeds were entered in the show, which has been held at the pavilion the past three years running. Visitors got a look at long-tailed Maine coons, the nearly tailless Japanese Bobtail, the curly-coated Selkirk Rex and the big-eared Abyssinian, familiar from Egyptian art.
Hairless Sphynxs, wild-looking but thoroughly domesticated spotted Ocicats and ultra-fluffy Persians were among the most popular cats with the crowds.
Not every cat on hand was a purebred: one competition category is reserved for ordinary mixed-breed house cats, so long as they're neutered if over eight months old, have their claws and are "well-groomed, healthy and don't eat the judge," said Dayle Marsh, vice president of the club and a breeder of Russian Blues.
Veterinarians were present to answer questions. Breeders advertised their work from booths. A raffle and silent auction raised money.
"We're more than just a cat show," Marsh said. "Our bylaws basically state that we are to promote the purebred cat and to educate the public on proper cat care and welfare. Basically our cat show is a means of doing that."
Proceeds from past shows have helped to fund studies of feline respiratory diseases, asthma, heart ailments and, most recently, the mapping of the feline genome, according to Marsh.
Unlike in a dog show, there is no single best-in-show winner at cat shows like Lincoln's, which is licensed by the national Cat Fanciers' Association. Instead, each judge picks their own top kitty. A female Russian Blue and a chocolate-spotted Ocicat were among those that took a top prize.
And while canine shows feature a trot around the ring, less amenable felines are simply lifted from their cages and evaluated by a judge on a range of qualities, with points being allotted for everything from eye-shape to paw-pad color.
Marsh said one thing unites cat lovers. "We're all crazy," she laughed. "Not all the cats are in cages."
Nathaniel Zimmer can be reached at (708) 633-5994 or firstname.lastname@example.org.