In a celebration of feline grace and charm, the Philadelphia Catstravaganza took the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center by storm this past weekend, January 27th and 28th. 

Organized by Loving Cats Worldwide, the event showcased an array of feline marvels, judged by distinguished experts from the cat show circuit. International cat judge and renowned cat rescuer Steven Meserve served as head judge in a team tasked with evaluating various categories of feline participants including pedigree adults, household pets and rescues, alters, and kittens.

The star attraction on Sunday afternoon was the Ragdoll breed, affectionately dubbed the “Ragdoll Mafia” for their dominance in the show. These plush beauties, known for their docile temperament, striking blue eyes, and silky fur, captivated the audience, eliciting collective “awws” at their every languid movement.

In a stunning climax, the competition saw three Ragdoll cats among the finalists vying for the Overall Best in Show. But it was Walter, a majestic gray, bicolor Ragdoll alter, who clinched the title in a rare unanimous vote.

Walter the bicolor ragdoll – an undisputed champion.

The Catstravaganza was not just a competition, but also a celebration of all things “cat.” Meserve, the head judge, emceed the event’s “Catwalk,” in which the feline participants were hoisted up ‘Simba-style’ (think Lion King dramatics) and paraded down a ruby-hued runway for the adoring crowd to ooh and aah over.

The cats were unfazed – the humans went wild.

Meserve engaged the crowd with a question: “Raise your hand if you’ve heard of a cat show before.” A few hands in the audience went up.

“Now, how about dog shows?” This time, a significantly larger number of hands shot up.

“What’s the deal with that, huh?” He remarked, tongue-in-cheek, “This is about bringing cats to their rightful place once and for all… above dogs.”

The felines in attendance – ever the aristocratic and highbrow species – would likely concur.

A Bengal cat hunts a feather toy
A Persian cat lays down for a rest.

Both pedigree and rescue cats were available for sale or adoption at the event. The sound of a bell ringing, signaling an adoption, was a frequent and joyous occurrence, with over 35 cats finding their forever homes on Saturday alone. Several local rescue and animal welfare organizations facilitated adoptions and recruited volunteers at the event, including West-Philadelphia-based Project MEOW.

Meghan, a volunteer from Project MEOW, has been volunteering since 2020, helping with events and fostering. In a conversation with Broad + Liberty, she discussed the mission of Project MEOW and the community involved in rescuing cats in the area they serve.

“Every year we have quite a good number of adoptions and people stepping up willing to foster,” she said. “It’s a community, collaborative effort in West Philadelphia to help out – it feels like we’re all really looking out for each other and these cats.”

Further adding to the event’s charm was the presence of vendors selling everything from homemade cat treats to handmade cat portraits and furniture – everything a cat and their owner (read: staff) could want or need.

For devoted cat enthusiasts, the Catstravaganza really had it all. An attendee quipped that the only element missing from the event was a competition category for “meanest Philadelphia street cat” – a suggestion the organizers are sure to jump on for next year’s event.

Olivia DeMarco is an Editorial Associate for Broad + Liberty. She previously served as a legislative aide in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Temple University.

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