Claws out as fancy felines hit New York for cat show

NEW YORK Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:06pm EDT

1 of 7. Billy Idol, a Sphynx cat, sits with his owner during a media preview for The Cat Fanciers' Association 5th Annual CFA-Iams Cat Championship in New York, October 10, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The claws will be out in New York City this weekend as hundreds of pedigree cats, with stage names such as "Disco Nofurno" and "Leonid the Magnificent," compete to win "Best of the Best" at the Cat Championships.

The 5th annual show, run by the Cat Fanciers' Association, the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats, will feature 325 cats and 41 different breeds, from American Curl to the Egyptian Mau, strutting their stuff at Madison Square Garden.

"People want their cats to win here," said Pam DelaBar, president of the association. "The same rule applies for these furry creatures. If they can make it here in New York, they can make it anywhere."

Wearing a bow tie, Disco Nofurno, a three-year-old Sphynx whose name was inspired by its hairlessness, is vying to win the premiership competition as well as the Feline Agility Competition, which emphasizes a cat's grace and athleticism.

"I think Disco sells himself because of the way he looks," said Teri Thorsteinson, Disco's owner who traveled from Virginia. She has also entered another Sphynx who is named "Billy Idol."

Cats compete in three divisions -- kittens (4 to 8 months old), premiership (spayed or neutered animals over 8 months old) and championship (not spayed or neutered over 8 months old). All three categories compete for the "Best of the Best."

Leonid the Magnificent, a 6-month-old Russian Blue, is competing in the kitten category.

"They are like little children in furry coats," said Helene Schneider-Hester, Leonid's owner who has been entering cat shows for nearly 20 years. "These competitions are taken seriously and we take pride when one of our babies wins."

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