If you're a cat lover or cat owner, the 56th annual Lincoln State Cat Club All-Breed Benefit Show is the place to be this weekend.
The show is from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26, at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, where spectators can observe 35 to 40 different breeds of cats, from household to purebred.
If you goWhat: 56th annual Lincoln State Cat Club All-Breed Benefit Show, featuring pedigree and household pet judging, education ring with expert speakers, vendors selling cat-related merchandise, pedigree and rescue cats for sale and adoption, cat rescue groups.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26
Where: Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles
Admission: $8 adults; $6 seniors/children; free admission for children younger than 6. Parking is free.
Animal rescue organizations will offer cats for adoption, and cat owners or would-be owners can learn from experts in the feline field.
"It's a great family thing to do if you're thinking about getting a cat or want to find out or get educated about a certain breed," said Cary Plummer, a Rockford exhibitor who breeds Persians and exotic shorthairs. Plummer, who is co-manager of the show, will be showing a silver tabby Persian male kitten in the competition.
"I've been showing Persians for about 30 years," Plummer said. "They have really big eyes, short, heavy, round little bodies, and a super low-key, docile personality."
People attending the show can browse aisles of vendors selling cat products such as fluffy beds, teaser toys, litter pans, collars, scratching posts and more.
One company, Cateeza, based in New Lenox, will offer cat toys made of natural materials. They've been tested on -- well, you guessed it -- cats.
"If my cats don't play with them, then I don't make them," said Janice Pitelka, owner of Cateeza. "Many of the toys are unique."
Pitelka, who breeds Somali cats, a longhair version of the Abyssinian, said she will also field questions from people interested in the breed.
"I'll be happy to tell them more than they ever wanted to know," Pitelka said.
Breeders entering cats in the show will be competing for grand champion and champion titles in the Cat Fanciers' Association, which is the world's largest registry of purebred cats. The cats aren't paraded around like in a dog show, but instead removed from cages and placed on a table for eight judges to closely scrutinize.
Education ring speaker Dayle Marsh, who has been a member of the Lincoln State Cat Club since the 1970s, said the process involves looking at a cat's head, body, coat, color, texture, and tail to compare it to the standard for that breed.
"When he or she judges each of the cats in that breed, he or she will pick a 'Best of Breed' and then pick the top 10 cats in the show and bring them back to exhibit," Marsh explained.
There are two categories -- one for household pets and one for purebreds. The judges will look at a maximum of 250 cats, Marsh said.
"Each breed will compete for Best in Show and receive a ribbon, first through 10th," she said.
As past president of the Lincoln State Cat Club, a CFA licensed organization, Marsh knows the show front to back. A northeastern Illinois breeder of Russian blues, she is in charge of the education ring, an integral part of the show featuring feline health seminars given by veterinarians and other experts.
"The theme for this year's show is 'All Cats Matter,'" Marsh said. "We're hoping to bring a lot of spectators in, and any money we make is donated back to feline health and wellness and shelters."
Typically, the show sees anywhere from a couple thousand to 4,000 people per day, depending on location and publicity. Many people like to check out certain breeds, like the well-loved Siamese and Persian.
"At this point, the CFA has reported that the number one breed is the exotic shorthair," Marsh said. "It's an American shorthair crossed with a Persian, and it doesn't have to have all of the groomings that the Persian does."
As far as popularity among pets goes, Marsh offered an interesting fact: dogs have been upstaged by cats.
"Cats make good apartment pets and they don't demand the care that a dog does,"