Cat show at York Expo draws competitors and cat lovers alike

Margie Smith looks on as her cat "Mael," a 25-pound Maine Coon "ambassador cat" greets Braxton, 4, and his mother Abby Fahringer, of Warrington Township, at the Cat Fanciers' Association cat show at the York Expo Center Saturday.

Margie Smith's Maine coon "ambassador cat" sat proudly Saturday at the front of the Old Main Hall at the York Expo Center, greeting guests as they arrived for the Cat Fanciers' Association Allbreed Cat Show.

Unlike other cats at the show, Mael — pronounced May El, and named after a vampire from a popular series — did not compete but was there to interact with people, chosen for his warm personality.

Sometimes people who come to shows have recently lost pets and just need to connect through touch, Smith said, and the 25-pound orange cat lives up to his breed, known as "gentle giants."

The cat show, presented by local nonprofit cat club Greater Lancaster Feline Fanciers on Saturday, Oct. 5, featured cats of all kinds. In addition to Mael, there were more than 120 purebred and household cats competing in six different judging rings.

In the first ring, Judge Pam Bassett waved her hands at No. 78 — a chocolate spotted ocicat — before taking her out to examine. A silky brown Tonkinese stretched its claws on an arched scratching post when prompted with a feather, as Bassett looked at its coat.

Bassett said she looks for three elements when judging: confirmation of traits specific to the breed, condition of health and presentation from grooming.

"The coat should be luxurious," she said. "It should have a sheen with it. You should be able to tell that it's healthy."

Bassett was judging whole — meaning not spayed or neutered — short-haired and long-haired adult champions that were competing to become grand champions.

"You have to defeat 200 other champions," she said, which could either take years or one show, depending on how many times they win.

The competition had 70 or more attendees at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday — many of them showing cats of their own.

Matt Baker, of Baltimore, brought his 4-month-old Abyssinian kittens, brothers Wang Chung and Chung King, for their second show, but he has many more shows under his own belt — it's been a hobby for 20 years, he said.

Matt Baker, of Baltimore, shows 4-month-old Abyssinian cat, "Wang Chung" in the cat's second show, at the Cat Fanciers' Association cat show at the York Expo Center on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Baker has been showing cats for 20 years.

"When I was younger, I used to go as far west as Ohio and as far south as Georgia," he said, noting he traveled all over the country to show his cats.

Next door, in the second ring, Tracy Petty was making her choices for top kittens. 

The winner was 6-month-old ragdoll Symphony, whose handler Hyunjung Park came all the way from South Korea to show her. Petty noted the symmetrical markings, oval eye and large frame that the breed standard calls for and beautiful presentation.

Ragdoll cat "Symphony" is Judge Tracy Petty's No. 1 kitten in her top 10 pick. Owner Hyunjung Park traveled from South Korea to show her at the Cat Fanciers' Association cat show at the York Expo Center on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.

For those who didn't want to watch the judging, there was still plenty to do, including shopping from vendors selling items such as cat pillows, beds and toys, a raffle and face painting.

Abby Fahringer and her son Braxton, 4, of Warrington Township, were hoping to "just pet kitties all day."