From felines considered sacred cats, to the exotic hairless Sphinx and even common household varieties, the Grape Festival grounds played host to the playful and lethargic alike during the Feline Friends Internationale Wines and Felines Cat Show in Lodi on Saturday.
With many cars in the parking lot of the event sporting license plates such as KATNAPR, LUNRKTZ and REXCATS, visitors could easily tell that they had the right address.
Approximately 200 precocious purebred cats were entered in the show which has been making an appearance in Lodi since 1997.
The show was a Championship Household Pet Cat Show, and cat owners drove into town from all over the state.
Participants handed their furry friends over to an experienced group of seven judges, with each judge located at a separate judging station.
Obviously serious about making the right choices, the Feline Friends Internationale brought in qualified judges from as far as Arizona, Virginia, Illinois, Texas and Massachusetts.
The judges give the cats in each category a quick but thorough looking over for such things as body type, the size and shape of the cats head, eye color, coat pattern and grooming presentation, local cat club participant Glenda Lee said.
Lee knows well how to present the felines, as she has both a regional and an international winner -- a Brown Tabby Persian named Mac and a Red Tabby Exotic Short-hair named Bruin.
The show was open to the public for $5, which offered guests a unique opportunity to get a close-up view of the competition and the incredible variety of cats. And a great majority of the cat owners were more than delighted to share information on their cats, even allowing a hands-on approach.
One such owner, Dee Dee Cantley from Southern California, had three exotic cats with her, and one especially seemed like a people magnet -- her hairless Sphinx -- like the cat Mr. Bigglesworth from the "Austin Powers" movies.
Feline Friends Internationale judge Tracy Petty gives a bicolor Persian a thorough looking-over Saturday at the Wines and Felines Cat Show in Lodi. (J. Paul Bruton/News-Sentinel)
Cantley repeatedly pulled the cat from its comfortable lair to allow children and adults alike to feel what a hairless cat feels like.
"They're not low maintenance, like you'd think," said Cantley. "He gets two to three baths a week. Instead of hair, you have to deal with the oils of their skin."
Another proud owner more than eager to brag about her cat, Sharon Lann happily showed off her Birman cat -- a rare breed considered the "sacred cat of Burma."
With a name like "Grand Champion for Evermore's a Kiss for Luck," it's understandable how her Birman has won or placed highly in every one of the 12 competitions it has been entered in.
With judges and competitors coming from the ends of the earth for the cat competitions, one might think the prize money would be the reason. But Cantley set the record straight.
"There is no prize money!" she said. "It's about the fun, the social aspect, the bragging rights -- and the love of cats."
Contact reporter J. Paul Bruton at email@example.com.