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Karen Henneke of Great Bend, Kan., holds an Australian Mist cat during the Minn-Kota Feline Club Cat Show on Saturday, April 5, at the Red River Valley Fair Grounds. The cat is one of only about 40 in the United States. It was introduced to the U.S. from the United Kingdom. Dave Wallis

Cat show brings out-of-town felines, local fans to fairgrounds

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Lisa Ferguson of Fargo spent the weekend showing off her 10-year-old Maine Coon, Commander Worf, at the 40th annual Minn-Kota Feline Club Cat Show in the ag building of the Red River Valley Fairgrounds.

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Worf was one of 130 cats entered in the event — slightly larger than the average Midwest cat show — and one of the few cats that did not have to spend several hours in a car to participate in the event. He was named the second-best Maine Coon at the show.

Ferguson, who is also the secretary of the Minn-Kota Feline Club, breeds her own Maine Coons and has been bringing them to this show for 18 years.

“We do this because we are crazy cat people, of course,” Ferguson said. “It goes with the territory, but we also do it because we love our cats. We can’t play with them in the park, and they won’t go out and play fetch or anything like that, so this is a great chance to spend some one-on-one time with your cat.”

The cat show is set up in a similar fashion as any other beauty contest, although the beauty of each cat is “more than skin deep,” according to Ferguson. Each breed has a written standard, and show judges inspect each individual cat for those standards — looking for a certain coat texture, body length, eye shape and color and several other aesthetic traits — to declare a winner in each breed.

While the standards for each breed are high, any cat owner was welcome to attend and show off their pets.

“There are plenty of household pets here,” Ferguson said. “If you adopt one from the humane society, you can still show your cat here. Even if pick one out of the barn, you can show your cat here.”

Breeds were judged in three different categories: adult, kitten and altered (spayed and neutered).

Chelsa Bigelow’s 11-month-old snow Bengal, Bacchus, was entered in the latter category. Her description of the care that goes into her cat brought forward a disconnect between opinions of breeders about the needs of each specific cat.

“Everyone has a different idea. (Bacchus) needs a high-protein diet,” Bigelow said. “Bengals are such a muscular breed, and you really need to feed those muscles.”

Ferguson, on the other hand, simply gives her cats store-bought foods like Purina or Fancy Feast, while fellow Maine Coon breeder Tiffany Anderson of Prior Lake, Minn., who has been coming to the local cat show for 21 years, gives her cats only raw food, insisting it is better for them.

“In the wild, they would only be eating mice and things like that. Anderson said. When we switched our cats to raw food, we noticed they had a better coat and fewer health issues.”

While the event brought in cat owners and breeders from miles away — including southern Minnesota, Wisconsin and even Ontario — it also brought in plenty of cat enthusiasts from the West Fargo area to spectate the judgings and walk through the rows of cats of all shapes and sizes.

“It’s just so fun,” Alicia Severson said. “Anywhere you can go that has a lot of cats in one place is the most fantastic thing ever. I love to see different breeds and varieties, so you can really get your ‘kitty fill’ here.”

Putting 130 cats in the ag building meant going through some tight spaces to see or pet them all, but the breeders agreed it was an ideal location for the show.

“It is the perfect venue,” Ferguson said. “Many places don’t want a whole bunch of animals in their building, but the fair people have been wonderful to deal with.”

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Daniel Determan
@DetermanWFP
(701) 451-5717
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