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Ocicat Claws Its Way To Top

Dogs might be man's best friend, but this weekend, at least, cats ruled the world.

An estimated 25,000 people, including Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman, showed up at Madison Square Garden in New York City this weekend for a catfight of sorts. The country's premier cat show featured fancy felines from around the country.

The Early Show resident veterinarian Debbye Turner offered the highlights of the exciting competition.

Cat fanciers arrived from around the country hoping their feline finishes first. They included the very nervous Freemont family who had driven from Ottawa, Ohio, with 24 cats.

The Freemonts are by no means odd at at the show, where 350 felines representing 54 different breeds were trying to become the cat's meow.

The first order of business was to make sure the kitties are living in the manner to which they've become accustomed: as gaudy, tacky, and flouncey as you can get. But the cat lovers and cat people know these two days are really about the competition.

The scrutiny is intense. Coat, color, bone structure, even temperament are evaluated. Absolutely nothing escapes the discerning eye of the judges. These pusses are primped within an inch of their nine lives. They're picked and combed and fluffed and styled. Some even get a little kitty makeup.

Jim Warden gives his cat four baths before the big day. Fabric softener helps create that fluffy finish. He says, "I prefer Downey."

Which leads Turner to ask the burning question: Are these people crazy?

One woman says, "Yes. I'm a crazy cat person." And another says, "I'm a little crazy having 10 cats in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, yes."

The second day brought anxiety, applause and lots of accolades. As for the Freemonts, "We didn't make it, but it was an honor just to be here," they said.

Here are the results:

Best In Show
Breed: Ocicat
The Ocicat looks like a small wild spotted cat, but is in fact a domestic breed created by combining the Siamese, Abyssinian and American Shorthair. "Ocis" are active. They are available only in the spotted pattern, but in 16 different colors.
Name: Wild Rain Distant Drum of Dot Dot Dot
Class: Kitten - 7 months old
Owner(s): Roger Brown from Omaha, Neb.

1st Runner-Up
Breed: White Turkish Angora
The Turkish Angora is a semi-longhaired cat that originated in Turkey. They are long-bodied and graceful with fine, silky coats. Though solid white is the most well-known color, they come in a variety of additional colors and patterns.
Name: GC Sadakat's Saheser
Class: Championship - 9 month-old-adult
Owners: Sheryl Amerigan from Boston, Mass.

2nd Runner-Up
Breed: Cornish Rex (Black Smoke and White)
The Cornish rex is known for its soft, wavy, curly hair; even the whiskers curl. Its coat feels like crushed velvet to the touch. The Cornish Rex has a racy, slender body and is found in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
Name: Marcel Marceau
Class: Kitten - 6 months
Owner: Thomas Baugh from Rochester, Mich.

The cat show was dormant for a couple of year because of Sept. 11. But the animals were back in full force this year. The show attracted a record attendance.

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