Call it a cat lover's dream, a chance to see the glamour pusses of the feline world in coats of many colors. The Tinsel Town Feline Fanciers International All Breed Show had them all--31 breeds of long-haired, short-haired, curly-haired and no-haired, each with its own special charms.
It also had canaries, surely a first for a cat show.
"People didn't seem to find it at all unusual to find cat plates, jewelry and all the other cat things," said Billie McAllaster of La Puente, who, with her husband, Bob, runs a rabbitry. The McAllasters set up the unusual booth offering yellow, blue and orange canaries and hamsters and rabbits. "But when they saw the other animals, especially the birds, it really threw them."
Canaries aside, the cat that attracted a lot of attention Saturday and Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center was a new breed called the American Curl, bred by Joe and Grace Ruga from Buena Park.
Bramble, the Rugas' 1 1/2-year-old female cat, posed docilely next to a small American flag as photographers snapped pictures.
"They can be any color--tabbys, solids, pointed," Joe Ruga said of the American Curls, whose ears curl slightly forward. "The ears are the distinctive feature. It is a natural genetic mutation, something that occurred in nature. Nobody ever tried to create it."
Ruga, who works in computer operations for Rockwell International in Downey, explained that their first curly-eared cat was a stray that showed up on their doorstep about eight years ago.
"We still have her. She is the original foundation female, a long-haired solid black," he said. "We had her two years before we realized she was really unique. We started breeding about six years ago and have been showing about four years now."
Ruga said there are about 20 breeders of American Curls in the U.S. now, and about 200 of the new feline breed.
"We are still outcrossing (breeding the American Curls with other breeds of cats)," said Ruga. "We'll be doing that until 1990, when we will start inbreeding (with those with curled ears). If you breed a Curl with another kind of cat, half of the litter will have curled ears and half will not. We're doing it this way because you don't want to start inbreeding too soon and develop genetic problems."
The short-haired spotted cats, among them Bengals, Egyptian Maus and Ocicats, also were quite popular with weekend showgoers.
The Bengal cat is a cross between a domestic cat and a wild Asian leopard cat that Jean Mill of Covina has been working toward since 1963. Her original Asian leopard cat was a zoo animal on the endangered species list.
"The only way to preserve them is to incorporate them into a domestic breed," Mill said. "He was untamable. To have a domestic cat, you must breed out the wild, untamable temperament, leaving a calm, affectionate, dependable one.
"I've been working with geneticist Dr. Willard Centerwall of UC Davis studying the inheritance of temperament through several generations. There's no question that they inherit temperament."
Mill also breeds the domestic Egyptian Maus (mau is the Egyptian word for cat). Bill Hennessy of Burbank, who bought his first breeding pair of Egyptian Maus from Mill two years ago, was on hand to show his spotted cats and offer 4-month-old kittens for sale at $300 apiece.
"They are a lot more prevalent on the East Coast," said Hennessy, an accountant, who has 10 Maus. "I always had cats as pets, but this is the first I've bred them. I just do it for the love of animals. I don't make a living at it. If I can break even, I'm real happy. Some years I do, some I don't."
Holly Robson of White Rock, British Columbia, had come to exhibit her mother's spotted Ocicats and also had two kittens to sell. Robson said her mother, Eleanore Mast, is one of only two Ocicat breeders in Canada.
Robson said her Ocicats sell for $350 and up for pet stock; $500 and up for breeding stock. "The Ocicat is a recognized breed with championship status," she said. "But the breed is only about 20 years old. Compared to the Siamese and the Abyssinian that are 800-year-old breeds, this is new."
Many breeders had decorated their cats' wire cages for the show. Most cages had top and side covers and drapes over the front. One was draped with small white Christmas tree lights and green and white curtains; another was decorated with velvet and lace.
Fancy Holiday Cages
Between judging sessions, Monique, a Chinchilla silver Persian, looked like an elegant movie star as she dozed inside her cage in a four-poster cat bed with a pink canopy and comforter. Monique's owner/breeder, Barbara Whitman of Alpine, Calif., had made the cat bed, she said.
A few aisles away, Dr. Beau Devereaux, a sleek black Bombay with gold-colored eyes, relaxed in his green-covered cage, complete with wreaths, silk poinsettias and tiny red, white and green Christmas stockings.