Owners of competitive cats from hundreds of miles around have converged on Lockport this weekend.
Cats were taken before eight judges all day Saturday in the Kenan Arena, 195 Beattie Ave., and the judging will continue today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and children.
Show manager Jerry Hamza of Lyndonville said more than 1,000 people paid their way into the arena Saturday to see the 227 entered cats.
The show, the first ever held in Lockport, was organized by Educated Guess Cat Fanciers, a local club affiliated with the Cat Fanciers Association, the worldwide cat-judging organization.
"We've got cats here from California, Texas, Florida -- all over. Probably 85 percent of the cats are from outside the area," Hamza said.
Hamza, who is also comedian George Carlin's manager, said the cat season runs year-round, although the annual points standings are completed as of April 30 each year.
"It's like a NASCAR thing. You accumulate points for every cat you beat," Hamza said. "Every breed has a written standard and they're judged based on how well they conform to the standard."
The cats sleep or play in carriers or cages in the center of the arena when not being judged, and spectators can look at them there as well as seeing them on the judging tables.
Paul Patton of Elgin, Ill., one of the eight invited judges, said each judge works 30 to 40 weekends a year. "I've been to Moscow judging cats. I've been to Tokyo," he said.
Each judge will see all 227 cats this weekend. They are scored based on criteria set up by each breed association.
"The cats that make the finals accumulate points," Patton said. "Each judge makes his own pick of the Top 10 cats."
The cats are shown in three divisions: kittens, which are 4 to 8 months old; championship, for cats older than 8 months; and premiership, which is for spayed or neutered cats of any age.
Judges use various objects, from feathers to fuzz balls, to get the cats to react. Judge Gene Darrah of Alliance, Ohio, said they are not being judged on how they react to the object. It is used merely to get them to open their eyes and distract them from the crowd or the shadows cast by the lights onto the white judging table.
"It's very different from a dog show, where you get judged once and you're done," said Beth Holly of Dayton, Ohio.
She and Linda Komar of Cleveland are co-owners of a 6-year-old blue, cream Persian whose official name is Jadon Faviara. However, she answers to "Duh."
"Our goal is to take the cat out and make it a grand champion," Komar said.
"Look at the sweet expression on this guy," Judge Barbara Sumner of Mullberry, Fla., cooed as an exotic shorthair tabby kitten reared up as she held out a pompom for him to play with.
The cat, Ladiluck's Technicolor, or "Tech" for short, won Sumner's judging for the best exotic shorthair kitten. Its owners are Rich Mastin of Penfield, manager of the Bill Gray's restaurant chain, and Sharon Soules of Hamilton, Ont.
"My wife got me started," Mastin said. "Why did we start doing this, honey?"
"For the love of cats," Lisa Mastin replied.