Mass hysteria or simply a headscratcher? Why would the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show break from 140 years of tradition and feature cats? At this year's competition (February 11 - 14) in New York city it's happening; pedigree cats are welcome to participate in the "meet the breeds" and agility portions of the show. It's not quite clear how cats will compete in the agility championship but press releases make it clear that they won't be in head-to-head battles to best dogs, so why include them then?
Let's face it - this competition is for dog enthusiasts, the competitive ones who dedicate their lives to seeing if they can create the smartest, most obedient, expensive looking dog. I know the allure of this. We went to a breeder for our last dog, Beau, a Boykin Spaniel, and paid a small fortune for him because his father was a champion hunt dog and his mother had won a "best in show" competition.
He fit the bill for being great with small children and adapting well to other dog breeds to mesh well with our aging Bichon Frise. After tons of obedience training, we have a friendly dog who constantly suffers from ear infections and has an overwhelming need to mark his territory EVERYWHERE.
As a dog lover, I can appreciate all the pomp and circumstance of pedigree dog worship and will make time to watch the televised portions of the competition as well as watching Best in Show, one of my all-time favorite comedies. But back to the original question why add cats?
According to Gail Miller Bisher, a spokeswoman for the Westminster Kennel Club, “It’s a celebration of dogs — and now cat — but it needs to be a little bit of everything for everybody. That’s what we like about it.” No it doesn't. Being inclusive where it makes sense is great but at a show with a long-standing tradition of celebrating dogs, adding another animal species seems odd. Alas, it's happening and the featured feline is a Bengal cat named - of all things - Jungletrax Abiding Ovation.
Evidently Jungletrax made a splash at the show's presser at Madison Square Garden. See already the cats are trying to upstage the dogs or at least their owners are. The Bengal's owner, Anthony Hutcherson said, “There’s so much love out there in the world, why just limit it to dogs and puppies?” Ummmm . . . because it's a dog show.
I'm curious how cats compete in an agility contest without a bunch of hissing or indifference to do as bidded on command. I guess we will soon find out. Welcome to showbiz Jungletraz. I see some great Fancy Feast commercials in your future.