Ten years ago, if you asked me if I liked cats, I’d have said, “all cats must be destroyed”. Now here I am, going to a cat expo with K to check out the scene and look for vendors with cool cat toys. Wow, talk about the times they have a-changed.

Communications officer Jessica picks up a transmission about a cat convergence in the area. I put it on the list of things to make a report to back at starbase with K, when we’re planning the weekend explorations and patrols. I know she’s been jonesin’ to get some fresh cat toy tech, and the cats have been a little in the dumps lately, so I know it’s a cat maintenance power-up coming down the pipe at some point.

I mention it, and all of a sudden a blah Saturday turns into a chance for something exciting. Its like I told K we have emeralds growing in the gas tanks of our cars. Whoo-eee! Water bottle, check. Ducats, check. Printed out copies of the coupons, check. Backpack for the mule (me), check. Ready the thrusters, here we go!

Docking achieved, payment administration taken care of, entry achieved. All I can say is, “Zoinks, Scoob!” The layout of the place is eight judging areas, with all manner of contestants in their orbit allocations more or less around the judging central locus. Around them, you have the vendors selling wares and taking up what are the edges of the warehouse structure. Then there are the expected support structures on the edges. Food court, lavatories, security, etc. You get the drift.

Each contestant has a “space” with a table and chair. They plop their cat carrier on the table, along with all their accouterments, and sit on the chair until its time for them to participate in a judging. The cats seemed to be grouped according to breed, so all the Siamese are in one area, for example. I’m not sure what the system used was, however, as it was a little hard to locate the breeds based on the signs. They didn’t seem to follow a logical order.

What blew me away were the cat carriers the owners brought with them. Each one was different, even though many of the base cages used were the same. You seemed to have plastic tents with air holes and metal bar cages. Inside, I saw probably every variation of litter box, cat bed, cat hammock, cat toy arrangement, and cat dishes known. Almost all the cats looked zoinked out, and I don’t blame them. The overload of smells and noises must have been really stressful for the poor critters. The ratio of women to men was about 3 to 1, believe it or not. There are more of us cat guys out there than you might want to admit! The crowd ranged from the typical “best of show” obsessive compulsives and crazy cat ladies you’d expect, to people who looked innocent enough and were there to share their passion for cats with other like-minded people.

I saw one carrier covered in pink satin and done with taffeta ruffles and pearls. Inside it was pink plush cushions and a pink little litter box, with a number of fine china dishes with various kinds of wet and dry cat food. The owner and their precious were out, so I got a chance to look at the setup. The owner had the equivalent of the Terminator’s arsenal of weapons for keeping the cat looking good, all in specially made carrying cases that holstered on the sides of the carrier for easy access. 45 comb-slide, with laser sighting! Spas-12-gauge clippers! Phased plasma pulse cleaner, in the 40-watt range! It was crazy to see how serious these people came ready to fight to the death!

The judging was kind of cool to watch. Owners put their cat in a numbered cage at the back of the judging center. The judge had a table with a number of toys and ribbons, and a raised stage to place the cat on. There were chairs for everyone to watch the judging take place. K and I watched a Siamese and a Persian judging take place. We missed the Maine Coon judging, which was disappointing, as I wanted to see the judge try and tackle those large twenty-pound cats. The judge took each cat out of the front of the cages, and did a series of tests on their tail, fur, face, playfulness, and so forth.

At the end, the cat goes back in the cage and some ribbons are placed on their cage according to how well they did. The playfulness test was the easiest for the audience to gauge, I think. The judge uses a short, sparkly toy to see if the cat will play with it. If the cat just sits there, it’s wah wah wahhh. One of the Persians was funny, because it was over enthusiastic, and the judge had to calm the cat down. It went nuts trying to get the toy. I’m not sure if that was a loss of points or not. The judge remained calm, and laughed with the audience. I had to give him kudos for keeping his cool.

But we were there for the vendors, and K managed to find some decent stuff for the kitties. She located a cat mat of soft material with pink and purple princess cats on it, with some matching mice toys filled with catnip. For Frankie, we bought a plastic rod with a series of strips of bunny fur on the end. K bought a white feng shui lucky cat for good health, and a lucky cat tea mug for herself. Not a mean haul, so we exited before the insanity took any more of a toll on us.

K loves the burgers from Checkers, and I have to say they are pretty darn good. But it’s not a luxury we get often because the nearest one is a ways away. But the cat expo is already halfway there, so we decide to go for it. The traffic proves minimal, and we make it there to fuel up on the Checkers burger and fries powerup. A bit of a drive home awaits us, but our happy tummies prove strong enough to get us through it, showing once again the power of the cheezburger.

We get home, and the cats each give the mat the seal of approval, and the mice toys soon disappear down the rabbit hole. Frankie goes wild for the new rod-flap toy we got, which is a good thing. Her previous one had been ripped and torn to pieces and was no fun anymore. The cats get their superzapper recharge; we get ours, it’s all good. Another successful mission in the day-to-day adventures of beat-down land.