Bangalore Bhath – Feline fetish – First Cat Show

The Indian Cat Federation asserts the pet’s importance in the city’s first-ever show

Aslan, a Persian cat, dons the look of a king that his name suggests he is. Photos: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Aslan, a Persian cat, dons the look of a king that his name suggests he is. Photos: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Cats are not put on the same pedestal as dogs,” complains Shree Nair, president of the Indian Cat Federation (ICF) that was formed in February this year by a group of cat lovers.

The ICF, affiliated to the World Cat Federation (WCF), organized its first cat show in Bangalore on 27-28 April. More than 80 cats participated in the competition that had international judges associated with the WCF. If you thought Bangalore is a dog-loving city, then this gathering may have forced you to think twice.

In a banquet area at the Chancery Pavilion hotel, they waited in cages. Some napped, some purred, most looked utterly uncomfortable and fidgety in the bows, bells and dresses they were forced to wear.

There were few Indian cats at the show. “India doesn’t have a breed that is recognized internationally as in the case of dogs, like the locally bred Mudhol hound or the Rampur Greyhound,” says Nair, who is hoping to get the Indian domestic cat registered as a recognized breed by international organizations and name it billi (cat in Hindi).
At this competition, however, Persian cats ruled.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman, a Nagpur-based businessman, got his first feline, a Norwegian Forest Cat, when he was working in the United Arab Emirates six years ago. Four of his 20 cats (two Persians, a British Longhair and a Norwegian Forest Cat) took part in the show.Though excited at the idea, Bangalore’s Yahya Sait, who famously has 15 Persian cats in his magazine store on Church Street, did not participate. “There were too many rules,” he complains. “The cats need to be placed in cages and can’t be let out,” exclaims Sait. “How can you connect with a cat without holding and feeling it?”

The Indian Cat Federation asserts the pet’s importance in the city’s first-ever show

Phirooza Rustumji, a breeder and owner of more cats than she can count, with her Persian, Misty.

Chotu, a British Longhair who won the show, was brought in on a lark, to pass time on a free weekend.

The Traditional Persian, or the Doll Face Persian, is the name for what is generally known as the Persian cat.

Entertainment with shreds of coloured paper was the highlight for Fidato, a British Longhair.

Forced to spend two days in a cage with only the occupant of the next cage for company, the cats stretched, purred and napped to pass time.

But Sait had the busiest weekend at the store during the show. “People saw those beauties and then came here to pet mine,” he says, laughing.
Abdul Wahab, who runs pet store Wet Pets, also felt the cat love. There has been an increase in the number of people buying cats over the past couple of years, he says. The days following the cat show saw many queries and walk-ins. “Sadly, sales of pets like cats depend on the availability of kittens,” says Wahab.

The creation of a recognized forum like the ICF allows access to information on cats, their upkeep, and the ones that can be bred. “Persian cats, the most popular ones, can be sold for anything between Rs.10,000 and Rs.3 lakh,” says Nair. This depends on the breed line, the cat’s ancestry, its form (bone structure, facial features) and coat, among other factors.

At the moment, there are no standards for cats and breeding in India. Cats that aren’t considered worthy of breeding should be neutered but, say breeders like ICF vice-president Phirooza Rustumji, this is a slow process. “We can’t ask people to neuter all their cats since it is likely that they don’t meet international guidelines at the moment.”

German Andreas Möbius, a WCF member, was one of the judges. “I am excited at the numbers that turned up, but I have to say that people need to be more educated about the cats they are buying,” he says.

He analysed every cat and explained its positives and negatives to the audience. “There are characteristics like long non-stunted tail, the body form and lovely aroma of a cat that one needs to look out for,” he adds. Only around 50% of the cats that participated in the event even qualified as potential breeders. “Wrongly bred cats also have all kind of health issues,” he adds.

The event ended with a fashion show on the second day, with the cats all dressed up. The owners looked mighty pleased. The cats looked like they’d prefer a snooze.