Let’s not think about the fact that the first month of 2019 is nearly over. Instead, let’s focus on it being a week of purrfectly groomed felines, pawsitively delightful looks of kitty disdain, and inspiring tails of overcoming obstaclaws. Don’t worry–I’ve officially gotten the cat puns out of my system meow. Now.
Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit
This documentary takes an inside look into the world of professional cat shows, the people who make them possible, and the competition for that coveted 1st place ribbon.
Handlers, breeders, judges, and, of course, kitties: we’ll get to know many of the quirky characters who keep the professional cat show circuit going.
Among those are judges who describe competitors as “the kind of cat that gives you goosebumps” and remark that particular cats never have a hair out of place. We also get to know some of the breeders who care deeply about the animals they raise. Though they get a bad rap, the breeders shown here take painstaking care of their babies: precise grooming, special diets of raw meat and chicken hearts, custom-built catios. There are so many people making these cat shows happen that the mind boggles.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the story driving this film is the fierce competition to win at the individual cat shows and ultimately rack up enough points to be the overall best cat of the year.
The top contender at the beginning of the season is Bobby, a Turkish Angora shown by cat handler Kim. Every cat has a benching space (aka space for their little luxury trailers), and cats are called up by number to queue up for individual judging. Though grooming is important depending on the breed, it does boil down to a cat beauty contest as judged by the standards of each breed.
While Bobby is a gorgeous cat, he runs into competition in the form of Oh La La, a red Persian making a comeback from retirement. Her handler, Shirley, obviously takes great care with bathing and grooming the little ball of kitty fluff, resulting in stealing those 1st place ribbons from right under Bobby’s nose. Kim and Shirley exchange some light-hearted banter, but it seems clear Kim is quite put out that her kitty’s chances of victory have vanished seemingly overnight.
In addition to caring for and showing cats, Kim manages the additional hassle of coordinating a small local cat show. It’s even more of a fiasco when the venue’s new management double books the space, and the time usually reserved to set up the cat show is now taken over by a wrestling event. Additionally, many cats and their handlers are having bad luck with delayed flights, leading me to reflect in horror how much worse travel delays would be with a cat. But the show must (and does) go on!
As the show season goes on, Bobby’s chances of victory narrow further with the arrival of another impeccably groomed cat, a Himalayan named Sandman. When this cat steals 1st place, Oh La La is pushed to 2nd, and Bobby to 3rd.
Of course, it all comes down to the final show. Which cat will take home the most important honor in the cat show community?
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
First of all, the cat facial expressions in this film give me life. The filmmakers play to their advantage the naturally sarcastic glares cats have mastered. It’s truly a joy to watch these cats in their element.
We also get some insight into the many wheels that must turn for cat shows to exist, and it makes me appreciate how much is happening behind the scenes for everything to run smoothly. I have a little bit more understanding for why all of the mushed-face cats always seem to do so well in these types of competitions too–the impeccable grooming and care for some of these breeds can factor into cat show decisions.
However, the film really plays up the rivalry between Kim and Shirley, which I don’t like so much. Many of the participants rave about the lovely, supportive cat show community, yet the film really underplays this element in favor of stirring up drama. It also seems to ridicule its subjects at times, and I’m really not cool with that. Cat ladies make the world go ’round.