With the rising popularity of cats as our companion animals — combined with the feline dominance of the Internet — a whole new array of opportunities have arisen! It is bringing together cat fans and celebrates the general awesomeness of our feline friends with The Increase in Community Cat Learning Opportunities!
The trend started with “CatVidFest” in 2012. A program associate at Minnesota’s Walker Art Center suggested a show made up of many of the amusing cat videos traveling around the Internet. She meant the idea as a joke (sort of), but reaction to the festival went viral. After staging CatVidFest twice in Minnesota, the show went on tour around the US. It made stars of cats like Henri, le Chat Noir!
Although the Walker Center stopped sponsoring the event in 2016, the concept lives on: the New York Cat Film Festival took place in December of 2017.
In 2014, Susan Michals, a California journalist, mounted (meow-nted?) the Los Angeles Cat Art Show. This featured fine art celebrating cats in an array of styles and media, with acclaimed artists like Shepard Fairey, Tracey Emin, and Ray Caesar.
The show received so much buzz that in 2015, Michals created the first ever “CatCon”. This was a “convention with cattitude” that combined merchandise vendors and informational presentations. There were also “meet and greets” with internet celebrity cats and the opportunity for feline fanatics to “let their freak flags fly.” The first CatCon drew over 12,500 attendees, and has gotten bigger and more popular every year since. Most important, every CatCon works with a local shelter partner to facilitate cat adoptions right at the event.
CatCampNYC in New York City joined the party in March (I know…I was there!) with a symposium format similar to CatCon. They also had cat merchandise, educational talks, and adoption opportunities for senior and special needs cats. (Cristina Ha, one of the driving forces behind CatCampNYC, was interviewed by Stacy in Episode 144.) Another cat convention, PopCats, allowed Miami-area cat lovers to gather in October of this year, as well.
The trend shows no sign of abating in 2018. The above CatCon, CatCampNYC, and PopCats are all scheduled to return! There is also a “MeowFest” coming to Vancouver BC next year, sponsored by MeowBox. If you can’t make it to any of these shows, never fear!
The Community Cats Podcast is holding the first ever virtual Online Cat Conference on January 26-28, for those who have dedicated their lvies to community cats, and those who simply want to learn more about how they can help. Make a New Year’s resolution to learn more about how you can help cats. To learn more and register, just go to our website!