SAN JOSE -- More than 130 fuzzy felines, their owners and a crowd of cat fanciers filled an exhibition hall at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds for the opening of a weekend cat show Saturday.

The show, which continues Sunday, is the 29th annual cat exhibition put on by the Tails and No Tales Cat Club, with prizes awarded by judges from the national Cat Fanciers Association and adoptions offered by three animal rescue groups.

There were booths selling everything from T-shirts to towels decorated with cats, but the main draw: an assortment of exotic feline breeds.

Some looked like furry pillows and others were lean and sinewy. They meowed or ignored the fuss being made over them.

Then there was one that got almost got away, bolting across the floor in a blur of gray fur to a chorus of "Cat Out! Close the door!"

Cats were petted, dandled and coddled. They stretched and pushed tentative paws at openings in their cages while waiting for a turn in the judging ring.

When their turn came, the fuzzy creatures were the essence of aplomb, submitting with grace and indifference to examination by the judges for points like coat, color, head shape, tail and overall profile.

Among the breeds were a cloudlike Silver Siberian, an inky black Oriental Shorthair, a tailless Manx Tuxedo, a Lilac Point Balinese, a pair of Norwegian Forest cats and lots of Persians and Maine Coons.


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"Every cat is different," said Kathy Calhoun, one of four Cat Fanciers Association judges at the show. "It's knowing how the standard applies to a cat. We call it 'an eye.' You either have an eye for a cat or you don't."

So what is it about cats that stirs such love and appreciation in their owners?

"Cats love you no matter what," Calhoun said. "They love you on your good day, they love you on your bad day. They're great for people on the go, for whom it's difficult to have a dog.

"And cats seem to understand you," she said. "They're warm and cuddly and jump on you when you sit down. They'll watch a football game with you. When you have a cold, they jump on the bed and keep you company, and you just feel better."

Saturday's exhibit attracted breeders, who were veterans of the shows, and first-timers.

"I'm new to this," said Gina Sierra of San Francisco, who brought her Balinese, Lavender Ice. "I had a Balinese, but lost her at 13 last year to a brain tumor. I had to have another Balinese."

She persuaded a reluctant breeder to part with one of his show cats by promising to show it. "I'm showing it and loving it," she said.

Shari Millar of San Diego was showing her Manx named Jazzman, a showstopper with black and white markings, husky shoulders, pointy ears and no tail.

The Manx, from the Isle of Man off the coast of Ireland, is an old breed, said Millar, who's flown to shows around the country all year.

Nearby, an Oriental Shorthair named Pierre lounged in the arms of his owner, Pam Cozakos of San Jose.

Pierre, a genetic prize imported from Lithuania, will be introduced to some female cats in a few months, Cozakos said.

"A couple litters in the spring, and he will have fulfilled his genetic directive," she said. "After that he'll retire and be my house cat."

By late afternoon, nine cats had already been adopted from three animal rescue groups -- Town Cats, San Jose Animal Care Center and Friends of San Martin Animal Shelter.

Cradling a "torbie" -- short for tortoiseshell tabby -- that she was adopting, Diane Youngblood of Saratoga said, "This is the best cat in the whole world."

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419 Follow him on Twitter.com/petecarey