Notes From a Cat Show in Madrid

by Gillian Brassil

– The show is held on the second floor of a hotel whose ambiance is basically “the kind of place you think would host a minor cat show.” Admission is €4. If you get hungry, you can buy a piece of homemade empanada or cake to eat off a napkin. You can also buy cat beds, cat brushes, cat clippers, cat carriers, and cat eye-goo-removal products. The vendors have surprisingly elaborate set-ups. You might wonder if these vendors make their living this way, traveling the world working the cat-show circuit, a cottage industry for a cottage industry. You wonder if anyone has bought anything today.

– The Feline Club of Spain has a coat of arms.

– Languages heard include Spanish, Italian, French, English, and Russian. The level of camaraderie is high. One woman takes photos on her iPad, which has more than 5,000 photos on it. Something tells you a high percentage of these photos feature cats.

– Pedigree cats are apparently even more elaborately named than racehorses. Actual names from the program: Sweet Spices Ego, Toy Tricksy Magic Moment, Wallhala It’s My Life, Jet Stone Tornado of Gragamelcat, Songgwangsa White Is the New Bunny, Kikapoo 2 Nude 4 U of Kuorii.

– The cats are slung by their owners from judging ring to judging ring, where they’re placed in cages to await their turn. The judge removes one cat at a time, stretches him out, and runs her fingers along his contours. Only occasionally is verbal judgment passed: “Nice coat.” “Short legs on this one.” Once, a cat’s color is questioned: “Could you show me the golden on him, please? I just don’t see the golden.”

– Part of the judging involves waving a cat toy at the cat. It is unclear whether friskiness is rewarded or punished. You are never not surprised by which cats get ribbons.

Previously by this author: The Best Renditions of “American Gothic” by Spanish Teenagers

Gillian Brassil teaches English in Madrid.