Well, I’m certainly put out… disappointed… chagrined (Not you, Falls ites).  Whilst the Garrettsville SummerFest was tootling along its merry way, I was missing the grand convocation of the Great Lakes Region of the Cat Fanciers Association at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron last Saturday and Sunday.  The tractors, fire engines, unicyclists and French fries won out over the fabulous felines….  Alas!

The kitty camp-in was going on both Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 to 4:30 (Have to allow time for sufficient naps) but I was booked for most of that period, one way or another.  Entrants apparently came from all over the country and then some—Maine Coons to Cornish Rexes and Japanese bobtails.  Some of the pictures in the AB-J on Monday were a hoot.  One Persian being groomed looked like a “Grumpy Cat” from You Tube.  Most of mine would probably look the same, IF they ever got groomed in such a fashion.  The names shown were also a bit of a chuckle : Augie, Duran—maybe he had a brother named Duran too, Chili—the aforementioned Persian, Mira and Sevress from Sharon Township—Mira took honors as best kitten, Magic Bullet—who appeared to be a long, tall, white something-or-other, Tessa and Parker Brae—one of whom seemed to have won a ribbon for being the Tenth Best Kitten in the Longhair Specialty Division.  Does that remind one of the expression, “Damn with faint praise”?  Speaking of names, there was a little boy there who answered to “Oonchie”.

So all of these worthies were there to be judged by professionals, who compare them to breed standards and their ineffable “catness” as defined by what they’re supposed to be like…not that a cat ever cares or gives two hoots in a hot place about what anybody else thinks of them.  Kitty treats and a nice place(as defined by the cat itself, no one else’s judgments or preferences enter into it) to sleep are about IT as far as rewards go.  A 100-point scale is used to qualify for national and international competitions but since cats don’t do real well with counting (No “Red fish, Blue fish for them) their appreciation of the results is fairly muted. A scratch behind the ears occasionally or on the belly or under the chin would be about as valuable to a cat, only at the cat’s convenience, however

There were also some activity competitions, an agility run and an obstacle course.  One spectator remarked that “Cats don’t want to do anything, so it’s funny.”  True, true.  I tried to imagine any of my             house-mates here getting into any such thing and simply could not.  Fuego, the Mister Macho of the crowd, would probably hiss and snarl and growl at all of the other competitors then hide under something when let out of his carrier (That’s what he does at the door when it is opened to let him  have it out with whatever intruder is on the porch).  Champ, the youngest of the guy-cats, the one who took the six-month sabbatical last year, would hide out for a while then walk around the edge of the course looking for something that he might pick up and carry off and maybe open to spill the contents (He does this with cat food bags, cat treats bags and this week with a gift bag that was empty of gifts but full of tissue and ribbons—fun stuff).  Bob, the outdoorsman, er, outdoorscat (There’s a double-entendre there; “scat” is a term used to refer to, ahem, animal droppings and Bob is one to head out to the “wild blue yonder” to conduct his cat business whenever possible), Bob would be wandering around looking at the obstacles like a real estate appraiser.  Spooky, the Grande Dame of the outfit—who has suddenly taken to hanging out upstairs instead of down in the basement where she usually was to be found, would just plop her long-haired, gold-flecked body down wherever, preferably behind or under something, and stare balefully at whoever had the consummate gall to expect her to do something that wasn’t her idea.  She doesn’t have a whole lot of ideas, so that leaves a pretty wide field, certainly anything including obstacles or agility.  We’d be losers, for sure.  No ribbons on the cages, even for “tenth best.”

Consider the thoughts of Sen. Adlai Stevenson on a suggested bill in the Illinois legislature about licensing cats : “It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming…the state of Illinois …already has enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.”  Yup.  No competition for us.

All of which makes me think of a British  writer named H.H. Munro, who wrote mostly short stories—really short, many of them, I think that’s why I liked them—and at least one of them featured a cat named Tobermory.  The cat was mentioned in several of the stories but met his end in one where a gentleman had mastered the art of teaching animals to speak; Tobermory was the demonstration animal.  Unfortunately, when asked to speak, Tobermory had no discretion whatsoever and proceeded to tell what he had seen while wandering about unnoticed on  the country estate—embarrassing in the extreme to the owner and guests.  Plots were afoot to send the cat to that Big Lap in the Sky, lest he see even more, and tell of it, when he was dispatched by a neighboring rival tomcat.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief except the gentleman with the teaching method who had expected to be patted on the back for this great advancement.  He was later found dead at a zoo in Dresden, having been attempting to teach an elephant to speak German.  Animal cruelty, I’d call it.

And then there’s Abraham Lincoln : “No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.”