Cats in Your Community

The New Culture Club, a not-for-profit volunteer cat club affiliated with the International Cat Association, hosted the International Cat Show for the 11th year at the Holiday Inn conference center from January 29 through 31. Thousands of people attended the weekend-long event, which included a food drive benefiting the Oregon Food Bank.

Pamela Barrett, the International Cat Show manager, has traveled all over the world as a judge and is celebrating her 40th anniversary doing cat shows.

“I’ve always felt it was my job to introduce people to cats, and cats to people,” said Barrett. “There’s a cat for every personality, every style from modern art to traditional. They are the way I feel we connect to nature, because we are so computerized and connected. To me, your pet is how you connect through the living world.”

Barrett said this year they had record attendance numbers, which may be because it’s the first year they used social media in attempts to reach younger people.

“I’m an older generation person, and this year I went out and worked social media,” said Barrett. “Old dog, new tricks! Old cat!”

The marketing director for TICA, Roeann Fulkerson, believes that cats are the number-one pet in the United States and are only growing in popularity.

“I could not be more proud of this show,” said Fulkerson. “This is phenomenal. This is the highlight show.”

With homes in 103 countries, TICA prides itself on its educational endeavors about proper cat care, such as teaching people that cats who stay indoors live five times longer than those who go outside often. TICA’s mission is to preserve pedigreed cats and the health of domesticated cats.

“You know, you hear so much about bad breeders. We are hobby breeders; these animals live with us,” said Barrett. “Cats are not domesticated. You have those babies born almost in your bed, most of us do. We teach people how to do things properly because this is a labor of love.”

Barrett explained how she put the show together with only 15 volunteers. For her, this is how she makes a difference. Profits from the show go entirely to charity; they expect to collect and give away about two tons of food.

She wants the younger generation to believe that they can do something meaningful too.

“We’re not making any money on this. We do this for cats. We do this for the community,” said Barrett.

People from all over the world came to Portland for the weekend, from countries including Colombia, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Canada, South Korea and Japan.

“We’ve got diversity everywhere. And that’s what I love about the cats,” said Barrett. “Cats speak to everyone.”

The show also featured Pacific Northwest breeds, such as the laperm cat bred by Linda Koehl in The Dalles, Oregon, and the pixie-bob from Eastern Washington. There were over 60 recognized breeds present.

Maryland resident Anthony Hutcherson is a breeder and the chairperson of the Bengal breed.

“It’s a great way to engage my imagination, creativity and enjoy the moment that you spend with a cat,” said Hutcherson.

Bengal cats are bred to look as much like a wildcat as possible while still being friendly and domesticated. They’re great for people who want an exotic-looking cat without the risk of actually having a wild feline.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” said Hutcherson. “Go to the store to buy cat food, use the litter box and still have your pet leopard!”

Judging by the huge crowds of young people in attendance, it looks like TNCC succeeded in reaching their target demographic.

“Cats are perfect for the millennials and our new fast-paced society,” said Barrett. “And you always have someone greeting you at the door.”