Animal lovers unite to display ‘family’ at this year’s cat show

Judge Dannie Cyphers, Salina, inspects a Siamese cat Saturday during the ACFA Cat Show at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds. The event was sponsored by the K.C. Midwest Cat Club and continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Carl Galka vowed at his wedding that he would scoop the cat box. It turned out to be a big promise after a sister-in-law wanted to start breeding cats.

Now Galka, of Sun Prairie, Wis., breeds Maine coon cats and has 11 at home — and plenty of cat boxes to scoop. He doesn’t mind much, though. His cats, many with wacky names like Francoonstein and Coonzilla, are more than just pets.

“They’re our family,” he said.

Galka is one of many cat owners and breeders who came to this year’s Kansas City Midwest cat show, which brought 90 cats to the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds this weekend. The show, in its 15th year, is a cat-lover’s paradise, showcasing different breeds of cats, ranging from the more common American shorthair to the less common Turkish Van.

That’s the breed Missy Cooper brought with her from Springfield, Mo., to show this weekend. Her love of cat shows didn’t start with Turkish Vans, though. It started with a white Maine coon she got from Galka a few years ago. She began showing her cat in the household pet class, a less stringent category for showing cats. She was hooked.

“It’s a way for me to spend time with my cats and a way for other people to see and enjoy them,” she said.

Cooper said the shows are a bonding experience and a hobby. Soon after she started going to shows, she and her husband started making friends with other breeders, many of whom they met up with again at this weekend’s event. They chat during shows and go out to dinner afterward. Attending cat shows is a great weekend activity, Cooper said.

That weekend activity leads to honors for best in breed, best in classes and other awards. Dannie Cyphers judges the cats based on a laundry list of criteria the American Cat Fanciers Association sets. Cyphers, a Salina native who started judging in 1995, pets the cats, plays with them and gets to see almost every cat at the show.

He said he’s one of the luckiest people at the show: “I get to do what everybody else wants to do.”

The show continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 21st and Harper streets. Admission is $4 for children, seniors and military personnel, and $5 for adults.