One by one, cats and their respective owner filed into the Verndale Lions Building. Cages were adorned with superhero paraphernalia, construction paper skyscrapers, and makeshift logos. Cats equipped with costumes and capes of all colors clambered in their cages, demanding pets and affection.
This year the cat show employed a superhero theme. Cat owners were invited to decorate a cage and design a costume for their cat. Some owners took a simple approach and others devised an entire lore surrounding their feline crime fighter. Many took inspiration from popular culture and brought their cat looking like Spiderman, Batman or The Incredible Hulk.
PAWS, Pets Abandoned Wanting Support Programs puts this show on to spread awareness about animals needing support and healthy homes. The long running cat show has been around for almost 20 years. It started at the Wadena Armory before finding its home in Verndale at the Lions Building. PAWS also organized a silent auction and a free will donation meal for participants and spectators.
Participants swiftly prepared the heroic kitties, making last minute adjustments to cages and carefully crafted costumes. PAWS board members acting as judges made their way from enclosure to enclosure. They judged each cat on various criteria. They took into account creativity as well as the cats story.
Shelli Rau and her daughter Rylie entered two cats into this year's competition. Gator representing Dash from The Incredibles along with Lion Paw were in good spirits as many spectators observed the furry duo. Rau loves cats and loves meeting people devoted to rescuing animals. They were last years winners, with Rylie taking home the win for dressing her cat as Ursula during the Disney themed contest.
A rivalry was brewing. Just a short walk from Gator was Fiona, a fuzzy multi colored cat practically glued to its owner, Tina Mitts. Mitts and Rau were directly competing with each other for the title of ultimate superhero. Fiona being a creepy crawler came dressed as the legendary Spiderman. True to the hero, Fiona clung to Mitts as she paraded the cat around while small crowds of people came up for a generous petting.
"It's fun being out and seeing people having fun with their pets," said Mitts.
In the middle of the show floor was the mighty Hulk and his cohort, Flash. Dinosaur, the 20 pound kitty, moved slowly through the cage reserving his strengths for the fictional battles ahead. Sophie, representing the Flash backed up the green giant from the other side of the carrier. Dawn Captain and her daughters Lexi and Kendra feverishly prepared the two the night before the competition. They relished the opportunity to flex some creative muscle and show of their beloved cats.
After several minutes of intense deliberation, the judges gathered by the photo area which was cleverly designed with comic book style decorations. They announced the winners and distributed the cash prizes. Prim, from The Incredibles universe won third prize taking home $10. Second place was Ted with his elaborate firefighter costume, he won $20. First place went to Gator, his owner won $30. The title of ultimate superhero and a grand prize of $50 dollars went to the lovely spider cat, Fiona. The rivalry ended with Fiona going home as the supreme cat crusader. Mitts and her kitty posed gleefully for selfies before sauntering back to Fiona's very comfortable carrier.
PAWS primarily organizes events like this to raise funds and to spread awareness about the plight of animals. They want to find forever homes for pets and use events to showcase animals up for adoption. Right now they have several cats that need homes. For more information call 218-639-7297 (PAWS).