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Cats — yes cats — to perform agility course at Deer Park show

December 17, 2018

People shouldn’t scoff when they learn that the Gulf Coast Feline Foundation’s January show in Deer Park will feature an agility course for cats.

Cats, explained Michelle Piatt, a Deer Park resident who works with nonprofit foundation to organize the twice-yearly show, have an unfair rep on trainability.

The cats registered at the Jan. 26-27 “Felines, Football, & Fun — An International Cat Show” are pedigreed, and while some people might think that training a puss to run an agility course is as foolhardy as, say, herding cats, Piatt said that breeding makes all the difference.

“Cats are typically bred for health and temperament; so these cats often have laid-back, very predictable personalities,” she said. “They’re very relaxed, very social, which means training them isn’t as potentially difficult (as training a mixed-breed cat). It can make all the difference in being able to train them. That being said, there are cats all over with incredible temperaments, no matter what breed they are or what breeds they’re mixed with — it just depends on the cat.”

The foundation’s show, hosted by the city of Deer Park, draws people from throughout the region and beyond for a special purpose — to celebrated a shared affection and appreciation for cats. Show organizers hope the accomplish their most important mission: to find forever homes for cats in area shelters.

“We always have cats from the Deer Park animal shelter there,” Piatt said, “but this time we’re also having the cats from Pasadena and La Porte’s animal shelters there as well. The main reason we have the show is to find homes for the cats in our surrounding shelters and to raise money — not only for the shelters but for feline disease research. It’s very important to us. At the show we had in September, we were able to find homes for 26 cats and kittens.”

The agility ring will be in a closed-off area where owners will guide their feline companions through several agility-driven exercises in front of spectators.

A cat in training

“You see this most of the time at dog shows, but you don’t always get to see it at a cat show,” Piatt said. “There will be little tunnels and hurdles and rings for them to go through. The president of our club raises Bengals (a breed of cat) and said he’s already been working with his cat in the living room at home — he has all these little hurdles set up for the cat to practice on.”

There will be at least 40 breeds of cats to see at the January show, including past show favorites like representatives from the Sphynx, Devon Rex, Savannah and Maine Coon breeds. Vendors will also be set up at the show, selling everything from the cat-related, like handmade specialty beds, blankets and cat hammocks to gifts for the humans like Scentsy, LulaRoe and Tupperware products.

“We’ll also have a raffle,” said Piatt, who advised that visitors wear comfortable shoes. “One of our big raffle items is a ZiggyDoo Ferris Cat Wheel. We will also have a cat tree by Fandango Cat furniture, a TV and football memorabilia.”

The show will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Jimmy Burke Activity Center, 500 W. 13th St., Deer Park. Tickets can be purchased online at www.gulfcoastfeline.org. Tickets for those age 18 and up is $7 for one day, $10 for the weekend. Tickets for a child age 6 and up or for senior adult are $5 for one day, $7 for the weekend. Children under 6 receive free admission. There will also be VIP Passes available for $30, which allow for closer interaction with cats and judges, better access to the agility ring and other show perks.

“The most exciting thing about the show is that a person can come and see up to 200 pedigreed cats and household pets competing for titles, have an opportunity to adopt a rescue cat of their own, plus shop pet-friendly vendors all under one roof,” Piatt said.

Barbecue and other concessions will be available.

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