Behind the Scenes at the International Cat Show

(Kansas City, MO) — A white Persian cat named Wishes Lyric earned the distinction of being awarded the world’s most beautiful cat on November 19 at the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) International Cat Show, held at H. Roe Bartle Hall and Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo., November 17-19, 2000.

Upon winning the CFA show, owner Connie Stewart of Temple City, Calif. could have hollered, “We’re going to Disneyland!”. Instead she said, “She’s going to sleep on my bed!” Stewart says a nap for Lyric – as she calls her at home – is her idea of ecstasy.

The 200 or so spectators who stayed to watch Lyric take first place in the Best of the Best competition cheered loudly when CFA president Donald Williams finally made the call. He made a point of adding to the suspense. “I’ll let you in on a secret,” he said. “There’s a one point difference between first and second place. But we’re not going to ask for a recount – even though one judge is from Florida.”

As he announced Wishes Lyric the show’s winner, Stewart ran up from the crowd, hugged Williams and instantly began to weep. “Oh my – I sure didn’t expect this. Lyric expected it; I didn’t.”

This show is often dubbed the Westminster of cat shows, featuring 1,306 cats from several countries and 39 different breeds.

Kitty Angel was one of three judges who ultimately chose Lyric as the show’s top cat. “She has beautiful deep, dark copper eyes and she was presented in beautiful condition.” Lyric was the third consecutive Persian to win the show, and this is the sixth time in thirteen years a Persian won top honors.

However, when Williams made the announcement, not all of the 200 or so spectators agreed. “It looks like she stuck a paw into a electric socket,” was one comment from the gallery. Indeed, Lyric sports an electric white striking coat.

In all, just over 10,000 people viewed popular cats like Persians and Siamese to rarer breeds such as the Selkirk rex and LaPerm. Retail booths also sold kitty litters, cat food, cat sculptures, holiday wrapping paper with cats and all sorts of toys that include one called “The World’s Best Cat Toy.” This is a plastic but colorful and realistic looking dragonfly at the end of a 9, 18 or 27-inch wire. The interactive toy is available for $15 only through

Yaeko Takano traveled to Kansas City from Tokyo, Japan – where she is the CFA regional director. Takano escorted 40 people and their cats from the Far East.

Takano says cat shows are pretty much the same in Japan. But the most popular purebred cats in her country are the Maine Coon and the American shorthair. “These are the exotic cats in Japan – and people like their patterns.” She says the Japanese bobtail – considered an exotic and rare choice in America – are merely street cats at home.

More Show News

In conjunction with the CFA International Cat Show, the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) and the Dog Writers Association of America conducted their annual writing seminars. The CWA also presented their Academy Awards for Cat Writers. Among the more than 100 writers, photographers and broadcasters attending was Pam Johnson-Bennett, noted author of many books about felines, including “Think Like A Cat” (Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2000; $16.95). Pam took the shuttle from the airport to her hotel, and shared the van with several former baseball players from the old Negro leagues, in town for a historical reunion.

Pam said one of her fellow passengers tapped her with his cane “Are you married honey?”

“Yes,” said Pam.

“Too bad,” replied 98-year old Double Duty Radcliffe, whose female companion, perhaps his “nurse,” noted that Double Duty once played with Satchell Paige and Jackie Robinson.

Double Duty chimed in, “I drive my dates around town in my Lincoln Town car. Where ya’ staying? Whatcha doin’ for dinner?”

More than 200 surviving Negro League ball players and their families participated at the reunion at the downtown Marriott in Kansas City. Also, about 100 Shriners stayed at the hotel since their circus was playing across the street. That’s not to mention all those fanciers with their pedigreed cats being taken in carriers all around the hotel. One hotel employee commented, “This is the craziest weekend ever.”

However, the elderly Negro Leaguers clearly had everyone in awe. Beth Adelman edits books about cats and is the editor of Cats magazine. But she’s also a huge baseball fan, and edited “Baseball’s Best Shots” (DK Publishing, New York, NY, 2000; $30) with an introduction by Johnny Bench. Adelman says, “Imagine what these people gave, more importantly what they gave up. They are a part of history. And they played for the love of the game.”

Hit ‘N Run

A trio of judges are assigned the prestigious honor of overseeing the final cut to determine the show’s most beautiful cat. They aren’t allowed to see the cats in question until they’re ready to judge.

Kitty Angel of The Woodlands, Tex.; Kim Everett, Portland, Oreg.; and Jody Garrison, Fort Pierce, Fla. hung out in the ladies room and played hoops with a rotten tangerine. Wearing their black evening gowns, the three distinguished judges fashioned a make-shift basket and even kept score. Incidentally, Angel won the game with a backhanded lay-up.


Note: This article is copyrighted by Steve Dale and can be used as source material and for reference only. It cannot be reprinted verbatim. Please contact Steve Dale at if you have any questions.


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