All cats, even feral, feel the love at ‘fancy’ show

By The Active Age | February 1, 2024

It’s a festival for fawning over fetching felines for sure, but the Wichita Cat Fancy Show is something more, too.

Every year, organizer Mary Beth Wegele notices the crowd around the Friends of Felines’ booth. The Friends are dedicated to helping the area’s population of feral and abandoned cats, which according to some sources is at a crisis level.

“They can answer people’s questions on how to get traps set up to get them neutered and spayed,” Wegele said of the Friends. “They don’t really relocate (cats) usually, but they can help figure out solutions.”

Cat fanciers interested in pedigrees will find plenty of Persians, Siamese and the like at the show. More than 100 cats representing at least 30 breeds will be shown. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 3-4 at The Cotillion, 11120 W. Kellogg Dr. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for kids and $10 for a family pass.

Many of the pedigreed cats on display are shown by people from around the country who are trying to earn status points awarded by the international Cat Fanciers’ Association. There are four rings set up for simultaneous judging, each with its own judge (also flown in). Additionally, there’s a cat costume show, vendors and adoption organizations at the show.

Wegele’s favorite category is for house pet cats, the kind she grew up with.

“That’s always a fun category because it’s just your everyday cat. People will say, ‘I have a cat like that.’”

Wegele, who’s been running the show for 20 years, said its move to The Cotillion — a venue known for rock and country music shows — has helped reinvigorate the event.

“The younger generation is kind of taking interest. We’ve got to keep this alive.”

Wegele is one of those cat lovers who’s found herself caring for feral and abandoned cats in her west Wichita neighborhood. In fact, she’s entered two in the show after successfully socializing them.

“One won best household pet — Ozzie,” she said.

She knows that public opinion on feral cats is divided, but she has become passionate about them.

“They have a deep place in my heart because they’re so full of love, and they’re so appreciate when you finally take them in and socialize them, and they’re lying in their bed. They just want to be safe.”