The Current

Watch the fur fly in the surprisingly competitive world of cat shows

Rivalry is rife in the competitive world of the Cat Fanciers' Association.
Bobby, a Turkish Angora, and his owner Kim Langille, left, were riding high in the competitive world of cat fanciers. That is until Oh La La and her owner Shirley McCollow, right, came out of retirement. (Markham Street Films)
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Originally published on March 26, 2017

In the competitive world of cat shows, the claws are definitely out.

Each year, hundreds of pampered pusses — vying to claim the title of "Best Cat" — are paraded before judges at contests across the country.

It looked like Bobby, a Turkish Angora, was set to be crowned top cat last year until Oh La La, a fluffy Red Persian, came out of retirement and upended the competition.

Unsurprisingly, Bobby's owner Kim Langille wasn't a fan of the late arrival.

"I was not sending poison in a cat-treat format to her house," Langille said firmly. "But you know, if there was a snowstorm, and the flight didn't make it into Moncton, it could've been a completely different story than it ended up being."

It's Best in Show with whiskers. Meet the felines and fans of the highly competitive cat show circuit in Catwalk. 1:07

The rivalry is the subject of the documentary Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit.

'People were just as interesting as the cats'

Aaron Hancox, co-director of the documentary, stumbled into the world of cat fanciers one day when he saw a sign for a show at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

"It was a world that I had no idea existed," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti. "It was a full-on cat show — like you'd see a dog show — only there were no tricks."

Aaron Hancox is a fan of cats himself, but had no idea the world of cat shows existed. (Markham Street Films)

"There was a podium, these beautiful looking cats, beautiful looking kittens and really, really engaged audience members."

"I thought that the people were just as interesting as the cats and I stuck around for half the day."

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      Despite his cat allergy, co-director Michael McNamara immediately bought into the idea of producing the documentary.

      "We make documentaries about subcultures," he said. "We're really interested in stories about people who were doing things that not everybody does."

      Probably 95 per cent of the competitors are women, he said, coming from all walks of life.

      "The one thing that they have in common is this passion for the cats."

      Shirley, Oh La La's owner preps her award-winning cat for a show. 0:57

      The best prize of all

      Langille, who is from Moncton, N.B., has been entering Bobby into competitions since he was a five-month-old kitten.

      He started winning from his first outing, and Langille now has an entire wall in her house devoted to the prizes he's collected.

      Bobby — full name Boston Rob of Finland — "is a feisty ball of fun," Langille told Tremonti.

      Bobby, a turkish white angora is a top contender on the cat show circuit in Canada. 0:57

      By comparison, Oh La La is elegant and poised and a winner on the international Cat Fanciers' Association circuit, she said.

      "She is apparently an excellent specimen of the breed and her owner grooms her wonderfully."

      "I like the crazy cats who hang from the ceiling. And Oh La La just doesn't do that," Langille said. "If I was going to get a cat like Oh La La, I'd probably go out and buy a $50 cushion and put it on my couch."

      Even still, Langille considers Shirley McCollow, Oh La La's owner, to be a friend.

      The joy Langille gets from her cats isn't limited to trophies and ribbons.

      "I come in the door and Bobby is sitting on the table next to my door, and he stands up and puts his arms around me, and gives me kisses all over my face."

      "Who doesn't need that in their life?"

      Watch the full CBC Docs documentary online: Catwalk: Tales From The Cat Show Circuit 

      Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page, where you can also share this article across email, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.


      This segment was produced by The Current's Julie Crysler.

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