We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today, Don Rowe surveys the chaos at the 66th Annual All Breeds Cat Show.
You know what they say: nothing fixes a hangover like the hair of the cat, and so I took my hangover to a cat show at the Hamilton Gardens this Sunday past. It was fucking anarchy. A judge was savaged, some children cried, someone might have fed this yoda-cat edible marijuana:
There were Siamese cats, Burmese cats, British Blue’s, Balinese, Tonkinese, even a couple Norwegian Forest cats. But the star of the show for me, as has been the case since my first cat show – the 62nd All Breeds – were the sphynx cats, particularly one Fuzzoff Baxter Bear. And so I tracked down his mum, Sharyn van Aalst, to arrange a quick cuddle. Turns out she has six competitive sphynx cats, plus a couple retired ones, and shows her champions half a dozen times during the six month show season, year on year. She’s something of an authority.
“Every breed has a breed standard,” she says. “And so you’re always trying to improve what you’ve got over the years in order to hit the markers of whatever that standard may be.”
And what, pray, is the ideal sphynx?
“You want lots of wrinkles, very hairless, pot-bellied, large ears, lemon shaped eyes. You want them to be up on their toes with as long a tail as possible and a good, long chin. And you want a mickey mouse shape to the face with wide whisker pads. Basically a lot of judges nail it down to this – pot-bellied, bald and wrinkled. Everything a man doesn’t want to be.”
Sphynx cats feel a little like a hotwater bottle wrapped in suede. They’re warm, soft and wrapped in a delightful peachy fuzz. They’re the perfect cat for the allergy-afflicted. But there’s a caveat.
“You do have to bath them on a regular basis,” says van Aalst. “Particularly on the day of a show – I was bathing them at 5.30 this morning which they didn’t really like, but that’s what you have to do. Some of them are very oily, some of them are only marginally oily, but for a show you don’t want a sticky cat. You want them clean.”
And that feline maintenance pays dividends.
“They’re very affectionate cats. They’re quite a lot of fun, they’re really people-orientated, and they’re also incredibly smart – if they had opposable thumbs we’d be in trouble.”
– Don Rowe
Verdict: Good show, great cats.
Good or Bad: Good, family-friendly fun.
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