If S. Mocha Latte isn't an official breed of feline, he ought to be.
The nearly 2-year-old, long-haired chocolate tabby -- known informally as Mocha -- may lack a fancy pedigree, but he more than makes up for it in the looks department.
Mocha, who weighs around 10 pounds, resembles some kind of plush-toy creature thought up by Disney's marketing department. He has lustrous, chocolate-brown fur that's softer than velvet, amber eyes, big paws and a puffy raccoon-style tail.
Yet Mocha can't claim to share a bloodline with any recognized breed of cat. Of uncertain parentage, he's neither Persian nor Siamese nor Scottish Fold.
He's an everyman kind of kitty, born in a Perry trailer park. Despite his humble beginnings, Mocha has made his own way in the world and come out all right.
Mocha, who is "owned" -- if indeed that is the right word for it -- by Liz DuMortier of Lawrence, emerged from nowhere to set the local cat world on its ear (make that ears) when he won seven ribbons in the household pet division at the KC Midwest ACFA Cat Show last summer.
That means the young tabby placed in the top 10 in seven of eight rings at the event, held at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St. Even if Mocha isn't descended from pedigreed feline royalty, it was a dominating performance, by any measure.
"I was really excited, and I was kind of embarrassed. I had just wanted to learn about cats. By the end of the weekend, we were running out of places to hide ribbons," said DuMortier, who was showing a cat for the first time.
Jody Lawson, past president of the Kansas City Midwest Cat Club, which sponsors the event, put Mocha's multiple wins in perspective.
"For a first-time showing, that's excellent," she said. "I've never talked to anyone in household pets who's won in seven of eight rings."
Mocha will return to defend his titles when he competes at the Seventh Annual K.C. Midwest ACFA Cat Show, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 21-22 at the fairgrounds.
'American Idol' for cats
He won't be the only one. There'll be plenty of felines at the show, which is affiliated with the American Cat Fanciers Assn., one of the oldest cat registry associations in the United States.
The show typically attracts 80 to 100 exhibitors from across the country and Canada. Last year, 131 cats came to Lawrence to compete for ribbons and titles.
Lawson, a Shawnee resident who shows grand-champion Maine Coons, among the largest breeds of domestic cats, estimated that 800 to 900 spectators attended the show in 2002.
The Kansas City Midwest Cat Club is made up of about 10 members from Topeka, Lawrence and the Kansas City area. It has been part of the ACFA since 1960.
The club moved its annual show to Lawrence in recent years to provide the city with an opportunity to view and learn about a wide variety of pedigreed cats.
The show can be a valuable source of information for people who have questions about acquiring and caring for cats. It also offers those who own non-pedigreed cats a chance to show them in the event's household pet division.
(Registration to enter cats, of either the purebred or household variety, closed Saturday.)
The show appeals to both feline fanciers and those who've never been to a similar event before, according to Lawson. Many first-timers come with questions.
"I think it's just looking at the different breeds of cats, and they don't know how a cat show works, how you would judge them," she said.
Another aspect of the event that people seem to like is the Spectator's Choice Award. Each person who comes through the gate receives a ballot and is welcome to select a favorite cat and write down its number.
Ballots are collected as participants leave the show, and awards for first, second and third place are given to the people's choice of top felines.
It's kind of like "American Idol," but for cats.
Still more accolades
The honors keep rolling in for Mocha.
Just a few days ago, he was awarded the ACFA's 2003 Parade of Royalty designation, signifying that he was the seventh-best household pet in the association's south-central region of the country.
It's an honor at which no cat, no matter how finicky, would turn up its nose.
Though last year was the first time DuMortier had ever shown a cat in competition, she has plenty of experience before judges in the ring -- with dogs.
DuMortier, owner of Christal K-9 Pet Grooming, 3109 W. Sixth St., has been showing and handling dogs of a variety of breeds since 1988.
But right now, Mocha is her star, and the annual event at the fairgrounds feels like her home turf. "It's just awesome. It's a great show," she said.
Look for S. Mocha Latte to rule.