WALNUT CREEK -- Ann Fox and Gemma Osendorf-Boyd walk into Petco and immediately make a beeline toward the part of the store where a few kittens are nestled in their quarters.
For Fox and Osendorf-Boyd, volunteers for Community Concern for Cats (CC4C), caring for cats is part of their daily routine but it's one, they say, they do with a lot of heart. Today, they're cooing over a 4-week-old, wide-eyed tabby kitten named Bebe, who was found behind a consignment store in Pleasant Hill.
"She's the cutest little thing," said Osendorf-Boyd, CC4C president.
The nonprofit organization, which celebrates 26 years of rescuing, fostering and finding homes for cats and kittens, hopes to continue to increase awareness about caring and adopting homeless felines.
They're putting on an Internet Cat Video Festival on Sept. 7, at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek to bring not only cat lovers but the entire community together to enjoy the recent cat Internet video craze that's captured audiences worldwide.
Fox saw a story in The New York Times' art section about a cat video festival premiered by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis last August. She read that out of 10,000 Internet videos nominated from around the world, 79 were chosen and edited to a 75-minute feature shown on a large screen to a massive crowd.
If that one event drew a large audience there, just imagine what such an event might draw in the Bay Area, a community known for its huge love for animals, Fox said.
So she called Scott Stulen of the Walker Arts Center to ask if CC4C could host a similar event. Fox said she was overcome by the generosity of the Walker Art Center for providing the video and an updated version of the Internet Cat Video Festival, which will be shown on a large screen at Heather Farm Park's ball field following a full day of festivities on Sept. 7.
"We're putting on an event like Walker did," said Fox, the event producer. "The Walker Art Center didn't have high expectations. They originally thought, why would people go to an event when they can watch these videos at home? But this is like a dog park where everyone who loves cats is going to want to gather."
Osendorf-Boyd said she's marveled at how well Fox has organized the show. Fox has managed to invite other local animal rescue groups and other organizations to participate in the event which will feature local artists displaying their cat-themed art, musicians and yoga teachers to demonstrate "Cat Yoga."
Civic Arts Education offered a special art program for children this summer focusing on feline art theme, especially for the cat video festival.
Banners on the stage at the event will be decorated with designs by Fox's friend, the late artist Laurel Burch, whose feline-themed artwork is known worldwide, Fox said.
To make it a true family event, there will be theater performers, kids' games and puppet shows, and local vendors will be selling refreshments. Proceeds of the event admission will go toward increasing awareness about animal rescue and animal care.
"We are Community Concern for Cats so why not offer an event that includes the entire community," said Osendorf-Boyd, a volunteer for 17 years, who also helps oversee operations of CC4C's thrift store, Rescued Treasures, at Newell and Broadway in downtown Walnut Creek.
For Fox, organizing a community event wasn't quite what she thought she would be doing when she lost her beloved Malamute, Dakota, more than a year ago. The grieving Fox said she wasn't quite ready to adopt another pet, but her daughter encouraged her to explore the option again.
As Fox exited the animal shelter in Martinez, her eyes immediately zeroed in on a person carrying a bundled towel walking toward the shelter entrance.
"That's when I saw a little head pop out," Fox said. "So I snatched the 'bottle baby' towel and all."
Even after realizing that caring for a bottle-fed kitten required round-the-clock devotion, Fox said it's been worth it.
"Toby, my tabby, is the love of my life," she said.
Now, she's been dedicating her time to help CC4C find homes for homeless felines.
"It's like the whole community has got this cat fever," Fox said. "Everybody is into the whole energy of it. They recognize how unique cats are and they can come together to learn what CC4C is doing. Sometimes we need to enjoy the quirkiness of cats."
WHO: Community Concern for Cats (CC4C)
WHAT: Internet Cat Video Film Festival
WHEN: 3-10 p.m. Sept. 7
WHERE: Heather Farm Park ball field, 301 N. San Carlos Drive, Walnut Creek
ADMISSION: $10 adults; $5 children; free admission for 3 and under
INFORMATION: Email email@example.com or visit http://www.communityconcernforcats.org/2013/catvid/