You can't teach an old dog new tricks. But, believe it or not, you can teach cats not only how to do tricks, but also how to navigate a complicated obstacle course.
To prove the point, and to drum up interest for the upcoming 66th Annual Charity Cat Show, Houston Cat Club President Becky Galloway set up a mock agility course in her breakfast and den area. You can catch the video on Facebook, but trust us that it's pretty entertaining to see Roland and Dottie jump increasingly higher hurdles in an effort to capture the oh-so-desirable feathered wand.
Galloway says demonstrations of feline agility have been a component of the cat show for about 10 or 11 years, and says the course she set up at home isn't an exact replica. "The cats will follow a teaser toy over hurdles, go around weave poles, through tunnels, steps and hoops."
She says some of the cats are trained in the sport and can be found in the national rankings for feline agility. Galloway hopes Roland and Dottie will compete in the Houston show and says Dottie — a white cat with a calico tail — is "super flashy."
It's a fun event for those who want to show their cats, and regular, run-of-the-mill household pets (HHPs) can even compete if they register by January 1. But not everybody's invited: there's a ban on Toygers, Serengetis, Savannahs and Chausies — hybrid animals that result from mating domestic felines with wild or non-domesticated breeds.
Which still leaves oodles and oodles of gorgeous cats showing their stuff at the cat show, where they've set up a special Meet the Breeds area so visitors can view cats up close, talk to a breeder, and learn more about the cat's traits and qualities.
So if you're looking to adopt a cat, don't miss this year's show, which has the theme Get Your Kicks on Route 66. "We’ll have pedigreed cats and kittens for sale. We also invite local animal welfare groups to bring rescue kitties," says Galloway. "All the different groups, large ones and small ones, depending on how many volunteers they have."
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Two words strike fear in the hearts and minds of any cat lover: "Cat out!" If you hear that shouted, it's all hands on deck to find the feline who's escaped its cage. Galloway says sometimes the errant cat will be found meandering around the arena but other times it will get so spooked that its competition days are over.
Shopping season isn't over, however. Galloway says the vendor area does have items for cats (beds, climbing trees, food), fashion for humans, and favorite merchants like Cindy Vincent who writes the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers, a series of mystery novels.
The Houston Cat Club sponsored our nation's first free spay/neuter clinic back in 1993. Proceeds from the annual cat show have helped the club donate more than $850,000 over the years, including to the Winn Feline Foundation, an organization dedicated to the health and welfare of all cats.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. January 5, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. January 6, George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, houstoncatclub.org, $4 to $9.99 (free for children under four).