As the Village Turns

Recipe for Swedish furballs

| April 29, 2004
You'll find me in the  Cat Fanciers' Cookbook. *Wink, wink.* - ROBERT ALFORD
  • Robert Alford
  • You'll find me in the Cat Fanciers' Cookbook. *Wink, wink.*

Two weeks ago, fellow Indy columnist John Hazlehurst wrote about our village's City Auditorium. He used the phrases "massive city operating subsidies," "unashamed elitism" and "bitch sanctimoniously." Then he said the building is "an egalitarian, profoundly democratic venue."

I tried to write like that once. They found me two days later, curled up in the fetal position in a pool of urine under my desk with my tongue stuck in a thesaurus.

But I wanted to see what this City Auditorium thing is all about. So, last Saturday I paid a visit to the old building. I didn't find any sanctimonious, egalitarian, elitism stuff. What I did see, at exactly 10:52 a.m. was a female arch her back, hiss loudly, flash her sharp, pointy claws, whip her tail back and forth and then use her teeth to pull a big clump of fur out of her leg.

If you follow local Republican politics, at this point you're probably thinking: "Wow! John Newsome must have really ticked off District Attorney Jeanne Smith this time."

Animal moments

Turns out, however, it wasn't District Attorney Smith trying to influence the political scene by making the hair on her back stand up so she'd seem larger. It was Skrimshaw of Syntifiny, a silver and white tabby, contestant No. 108 in our village's 27th annual cat show (motto: "Anyone Got A Benadryl?").

The event is sponsored by the international Cat Fanciers Association, an organization that offers its members a cat show yearbook, a cat almanac, a list of cat show standards, a guide to cat show rules and, in several countries, a lovely 800-page recipe book.

Sorry. That was just a stupid and, in hindsight, incredibly insensitive joke. There is, of course, no 800-page cat recipe book. (The book is 799 pages, after the authors inexplicably dropped the popular recipe for Manx Wellington in 1997.)

Anyway, for two days the City Auditorium was filled with nearly 200 cats. For a $5 admission fee, visitors got to witness lots of emotional and unforgettable animal moments. The emotional moment I'll never forget is when the sad-looking Rottweiler who'd been pacing on the sidewalk in front of the auditorium found a $5 bill.

There were dozens of cat breeds on display, including Maine Coon cats, which people once believed were the result of breeding between domestic cats and raccoons, and Norwegian Forest cats, which some believed were the result of breeding between domestic cats and Norwegian-born Knute Rockne. (Rival coaches, well aware of the rumors, would often try to rattle the Notre Dame football legend during games by making loud meowing noises from the opposite sideline.)

A bad mouse

The Norwegian Forest cat competition featured a real star, 18-month-old grand champion Vanir Venus, a stunning brown-and-white beauty currently ranked No. 2 in the world among all Norwegian Forest cats. (As I understand it, the No. 1 ranked Norwegian Forest cat had to withdraw from the Colorado Springs show after visiting a Doug Bruce-owned apartment complex and getting a bad mouse.)

Vanir Venus did not disappoint her local fans, capturing the Best of Breed despite some pretty intense competition from Lostwoods Rain of Rockatts, Wegiekatt Star Shadow of Lostwoods, Vanir Abrianna, and Dj vu Yavanna of Kisatru. (It was my first cat show, but I had this strange feeling that it wasn't the first time I'd been squatting in a litter box beside Dj vu of Kisatru.)

Footnote: The dazzling-looking Wegiekatt Star Shadow of Lostwoods had caught the judge's fancy and was threatening to dethrone Vanir Venus, but yelped loudly and actually bit the judge as she was being returned to her cage. This caused her to lose valuable points -- eerily similar to the 1994 incident involving Miss West Virginia.

Great expectations

The competition was even more intense among the huge and mesmerizing Maine Coon cats. In addition to the cat-raccoon myth, the lore of the Maine Coon cat also includes the belief that it was the result of breeding between domestic cats and the American bobcat. This would explain the Maine Coon cat's huge feet, tufted ears and perhaps more notably, why its eyes get so big and it drools when it sees a small, unattended poodle.

Anyway, a crowd favorite was a robust male Maine Coon named Cabrito de Durango (Spanish, meaning "my cat has been hit by a Dodge SUV"). Owner Dennis Allen carried the big cat into the show arena all stretched out, with one hand under what I'd call the cat's "armpits" and the other hand down below, cradling what I'd call the cat's "things."

But when the judging was over, it was another striking male Maine Coon cat, Great Expectations, that was named Best of Breed.

Allen and his wife, Trudie, also own Great Expectations.

Which goes to prove that you just can't have enough great cats.

Especially when you're feeding a large group.

-- richt@csindy.com

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