Edmonton

Pudge the Cat comes to Edmonton for international cat festival

Edmonton is hosting the owners of one of the internet's most famous moustachioed faces this weekend — and she may not be what you expect.

Pudge will headline the 2nd annual Edmonton International Cat Festival on Saturday

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      Edmonton is hosting the owners of one of the internet's most famous moustachioed faces this weekend — and she may not be what you expect.

      Her name is Pudge the Cat and she has more Instagram followers than you do (260,000). Today, she is one of the most recognizable cat faces online, with a huge following on Facebook, Vine and YouTube.

      However, the four-year-old exotic shorthair cat rose from humble beginnings. Born in Chicago, Pudge the kitten was adopted by Kathryne Lone, a graphic designer who lives in Minneapolis, Minn.

      Lone says she was drawn to Pudge's distinctive facial markings, and drove nearly 650 kilometres to Chicago to adopt the cat.

      Around the same time, Lone signed up for an Instagram account. There, she started posting shots of her daily life: food, the city, her friends — and yes, Pudge.

      It didn't take long until Lone started noticing she was accumulating followers she had never met — all of whom wanted more pictures of Pudge.

      "So I just started posting more photos of Pudge and eventually she just took over the whole account," Lone said on Friday.

      Soon, she started designing and selling Pudge-themed merchandise, donating the proceeds to animal shelters.

      From there, the cat's popularity grew and grew. Today, she even has a manager: Ilsa Burke.

      So when Edmonton's Linda Hoang, the organizer behind the Edmonton International Cat Festival, was looking for a headliner for this year's event, she knew who to ask.

      "Pudge is a big draw for a lot of people. It was funny — when we started announcing that Pudge was coming, we were getting messages from people all over Canada saying 'Why Edmonton? Come here!'" Hoang said.

      "She's fabulous, as you can see."

      The in-demand cat had a busy day of interviews and photo ops on Friday in advance of the festival. While in town, Pudge also met Smudge, the Hotel MacDonald's official canine companion and four-legged greeter.

      So far, 400 people have bought tickets to the cat festival, which will take place on Saturday at NAIT in Edmonton — and Hoang expects to see about 1,000 people on the big day.

      "We're just normal people, passionate about our pets and we're all coming together to party," she said.

      All profits from the festival will go towards the Edmonton Humane Society, Little Cats Lost, and SAFE Team Rescue.

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