2 Jun 2017

Kitten' ready for cat show purrformance

6:57 pm on 2 June 2017

This weekend the National Cat Show returns to Christchurch for the first time since the earthquakes, and organiser Dorothy Horton is hopeful breeders will come back too.

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National Cat Show organiser Dorothy Horton is glad to be back in the garden city. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Ms Horton has competed in cat shows for over half a century, entering her first competition on a whim in the mid 1960s.

Turning up to her house for an interview, I was immediately greeted by several cats, all purring in unison as Ms Horton made us both coffee.

She said she entered two cats in her first competition.

"One of them took an instant dislike to it and wanted to tear everybody limb from limb, and the other one thought 'this a bit nice maybe I want a bit more'," Ms Horton said.

She then went on to start breeding cats herself, with her first litter in 1970.

Sitting down for our interview, several cats meowed at us from the staircase at the side of the room. One of these was Gypsy, a Longhair Burmilla, who Ms Horton has entered in this year's National Cat Show.

Ms Horton is now on the board of the Canterbury All Breeds Cat Club, and is helping to organise the show on Sunday.

At this point one of the cats had made a beeline for my microphone.

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Gypsy Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Countless volunteer hours had been put into Sunday's event, she said.

"You do it for the love of it, not the money," she said.

This was the first time the show was being held in Christchurch since the earthquakes, and Ms Horton said it was fantastic it was back in the garden city.

But Ms Horton said the cat show industry was facing a crisis, with turnout far lower in recent years.

She used to see nearly 1000 cats entered in a national cat show, but this year only 240 were expected.

"Our entries are not as high as they used to be and we are even losing shows," she said.

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Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

At this point I was fighting with another cat for control of my microphone, but Ms Horton continued.

"People are time poor, they don't have the time to put into these shows. If you have young families you have sports in the weekend."

Ms Horton said climate change was also part of the problem.

"The cats breed later in the season now, sometimes it's right into June before some of these cats hit the bench."

Ms Horton said that regardless of the numbers, up to 40 short-haired breeds and 20 long-haired breeds were expected on Sunday.

Judges were also flying in from the United States, the Netherlands and Australia to join their New Zealand counterparts.

Ms Horton was hopeful more people would start to come back to cat shows.

"It's fairly static at the moment, it would be nice if it didn't get any lower," she said.

The National Cat Show is at Bishopdale YMCA this Sunday.

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