Last weekend I attended CatCon, the convention with catitude. The pop culture event was held at the Pasadena Convention Center where more than 20,000 cat enthusiasts converged over two days to enjoy cat-centric merchandise, cat-related presentations, meet celebrity cats and see cats available for adoption. The Pasadena Humane Society was the official adoption agency for the event, and they showcased adoptable cats and kittens in a beautiful, home-like adoption center designed by Rachel Ray Nutrish. One hundred and forty nine cats were placed with new families over the weekend, making it a spectacular day of pet adoptions and happy faces.
CatCon’s stated values are diverse in nature, but all focus on elevating the status of cats in the community. They are debunking the cat lady myth, supporting animal shelters and pet adoption, and educating the community. I think the event did a great job with these goals. However, we still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding cats and promoting responsible pet ownership.
There are almost as many cat owners as dog owners in the US. Over 30% of American households own at least one or two cats with almost 75 million cats living as family members in America, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. But, there is still a stigma around cats that I just don’t understand. Maybe it’s due to the fact that cats are independent and don’t really need us the same way other pets do? Or, maybe it’s the mysticism that surrounds cats in stories, history and art? Or, maybe people have spent less time around cats than dogs? Regardless, cats are now the number one challenge for animal shelters with thousands of unwanted animals finding their way to facilities all over the country.
However, none of the above mattered to the people who attended CatCon. It was really spectacular that so many cat lovers were out and proud when it came to cats and their love for them. People came dressed as cats and soaked up the energy of being around many other cat enthusiasts. I have never seen so many adult men and women wearing cat ears in my life! Attendees bought thousands of dollars of merchandise, including t-shirts, my favorite being one with a cat hanging in a baby Bjorn, cat litterboxes that looked like space ships, and even cat jock straps (I’ll save that for another column). The other incredible phenomena were the line of people waiting to visit the adoptable cats from the Humane Society. Some people patiently waited for hours to have the chance to cuddle a kitten or relax with an adult cat in one of the communal rooms. There were also the people who splurged for the opportunity to meet celebrity cats such as Lil Bub, Pudge the Cat, and Nala, all who have a huge social media following. Like Trekkie and Comic-Con conventions, fans came to meet their favorite feline stars and most of the tickets were sold out weeks in advance. Each of these cats doing their part to elevate our understanding and care for cats.
Before I end this article, I want to debunk the crazy cat lady myth in my own right. This moniker usually conjures up images of a middle-aged woman in a house coat and curlers with more cats than they can handle. However, CatCon showed us the diversity of feline fanatics. From one crazy cat lady to another, I would like to encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about the majestic felines that share our world and our homes. In honor of my own cat Curley, I say, “Cats are the best!” Join the crazy cat lady club and adopt one today! To see pictures of adoptable cats, visit pasadenahumane.org.