By Alisa Howlett/News staff
Hoot, Bedazzled, Voodoo, Boozer, Thai, Magic, CC, Angus, GFN, and don’t forget, Java and Bean.
These are the names of Susan Marshall’s show cats – all 11 of them. Marshall fully admits living with 11 cats in a two-storey house in Sooke might make her the epitome of the stereotypical crazy cat lady.
“I spend more money on my cats than I do myself. No fancy nails and hairdos for me, but my cats have the best hammocks, toys, food …” says Marshall, who’s been showing cats for more than 20 years.
At first her husband Graham wasn’t on board with the whole cat thing; it wasn’t until Marshall brought home her first Abyssinian, which made him come around.
“I said after I bought my very first Abyssinian it would be an only cat – I lied. Now we have eleven,” Marshall admits with a laugh. “(My husband’s) a complete convert.”
This particular breed looks like a mini cougar with its relatively large pointed ears, greenish almond-shaped eyes, long legs and tapered tail. The breed also has a uniquely different temperament than most cats.
“My husband says they’re a cross between a dog, a cat and a monkey,” says Marshall. “They have a dog-like quality, they are so smart they drive you crazy – they know everything. They also like height, which is the monkey part.”
Some might think living with 11 cats is a bit, well, much; but the part that might be considered much is that Marshall is actually allergic to cats.
“The doctor said it’s allergy induced Asthma. I will not, I refuse, I will never give up my cats,” Marshall says devotedly, adding she just doesn’t let too many sleep in her bed at once.
This weekend is the annual Garden City Cat Club Show at Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre. Over 25 different breeds – including Sphinx, Maine Coon and Somali – will be attending the show, says Marshall, a co-organizer of the event.
The cats are judged based on breed standards in several categories: kittens, adults (divided between short-hairs and longhairs), household pets and altered (anyone spayed or neutered).
“It’s the same as with dog shows, although we don’t have to run them around – thank God,” Marshall says laughing.
Generally speaking, cats get the reputation of being independent and aloof creatures, but Marshall says most of the show cats love being in the show – and for the ones who don’t, they simply don’t come back.
“It’s individual attention that’s poured on them all day long, they love it,” she says.
Because there will be so many breeds, the show organizer says it’s a great place for people who are considering a cat to learn about the different temperaments. The judging is interactive; judges openly discuss the breed and are available for more information.
In addition to a variety of breeds, there will be a number of vendors at the show selling niche cat products, such as hand-knit mice toys filled with catnip. Marshall says the mice are made and sold by a local woman and usually sell out in under an hour.
There will also be kittens for sale and local cat rescue groups accepting cat food donations for one dollar off admission price.
The family-friendly show is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both June 17 and 18. Tickets are $6 for an adult or $3 for children. Family admission is $12. Tickets are free for children five and under.