Rock the catsbah: Denver's competitive cat scene is a subculture all its own

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Welcome to the cat show.
While you were outside enjoying the beautiful springtime weather in Denver this last weekend, people from around the country were showing off their pussies.

That's right. Hundreds of cat owners and breeders gathered for the Springtime in the Rockies all-breed cat show in Denver. The two-day show, at the National Western Complex on Humboldt Street, played host to over 140 different cats, including hairless Sphynx cats that looked exactly like Mrs. Whiskerson, Rachel's naked cat in Friends, and other, hairier cats, like the Exotic breed.

For those who have never been to a cat show, the best way to imagine one is like this: picture the movie "Best in Show" -- only without the prancing around, without the dogs and without Parkey Posey's awesome braces. But with all of the nuances of a major subculture few people are aware of. At the Springtime in the Rockies cat show, the owners and breeders are just as interesting as the cats they raise and train either in their homes or at catteries, places where cats are bred for competition.

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Joann White and Far Out, the two-year-old Cornish Rex cat.
Take, for example, Joann White. White has been handling cats for over 50 years, and she spends most of her weekends traveling the country to various cat shows with the Chiang-Lee/Ranchapur & Judo Catteries. One of her cats, a two-year-old Cornish Rex named Far Out, is the second highest scoring Cornish Rex in the country.

"I try to breed or find a top quality cat, then I travel with it to the different shows," White says about her competitive process. "When I started handling cats, all it took was working with one winning cat and the rest is history."

But it's not just about the competition itself, White says. It's about the community at the different cat shows.

"You have your friends, but you come here and you know everyone from other shows," she says. "We know each other. We help each other. It's a big group of people."

Like Trekkies at a Star Trek convention, these cat trainers, breeders, owners and fans are in a league all their own, a mecca of all things feline. As an outsider, a person may not appreciate the time and effort that goes in to a competition of this magnitude.

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