The best way I can describe CatConLA is that it is an event where people who truly love cats can proudly come together in a safe, non-judgmental place to celebrate their devotion, admiration and love for felines.
Think of it as a Star Trek convention for cat people.
CatConLA, which took place June 25 – 26, 2016, was sprawled out over two floors at The Reef in downtown Los Angeles.
Cat artist Cat-Hi and I were helping our friend Ingrid King, author of several award-winning books, at her booth.
Side note: while we were at CatConLA it was announced that Ingrid’s blog, The Conscious Cat, was named Best Cat Blog by Blog Paws. This is a HUGE honor (and much deserved).
Every couple of hours, I would take some time to explore a different area of the convention floor(s). There was a lot to take in and it was overwhelming, even to me!
Most of the wares being exhibited by the vendors were for people: apparel, mugs, books, art, handmade crafty things, etc. There were also many cat-related businesses, like the Cat Lady Box, which you should totally subscribe to.
Some of the bigger companies had full on exhibitions, like World’s Best Cat Litter. Not only did they have a photo booth, but they also had Cat Behavior Consultant Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi on hand to answer behavior related questions. A cartoon likeness of him was on the display wall. He was very patient as he answered questions from each exasperated cat parent.
There was also an enormous exhibition featuring cats up for adoption (88 were adopted out over the two days), an Escape Room, sponsored by Animal Planet (there was an hour long wait all the time, so I didn’t get to see what that was all about), and others. But my focus was more on the small and mid-size vendors. There were a decent amount of these smaller companies with products for cats – toys, apparel, dinnerware, furniture, carriers, etc. Everyone was super friendly and genuinely happy to answer questions.
One of the surprise vendors was Kat Von D. She had a whole salon set up. They were offering free cat-eye make up application. I did it! My first cat eye make up! All the products were vegan and cruelty free. Go Kat!!
Of course, no cat convention would be complete without celebrity cats. CatConLA featured Lil Bub, Nala and Coffee Cat, and Pudge and the Cats of Instagram, who patiently took thousands of photos with their fans.
In addition to several lectures and a CatVideoFest, there was CatCon’s Inaugural Furr-ocious Fashion Face Off Contest. Yes, the people dressed up, not the cats!
Human celebrities also made an appearance. I will admit I was a bit star struck by Julie Newmar (Cat woman!).
From L to R: Cat-Hi, Daniel Quagliozzi, me, Patrick Mahaney
More than 15,000 people attended this year’s CatConLA. It is estimated that 30% were men, because real men love cats!
I was happy to see several families enjoying CatConLA together – mothers and fathers with their children. I loved seeing little boys proudly wearing cat shirts. But my favorite kid had to be this one. She seemed very quiet and shy until I asked if I could take her picture. Suddenly, she went into this pose. Amazing.
Many of the attendees wore some pretty creative cat t-shirts and other clothing items. I even saw cat ears that lit up. Some people had whiskers drawn on their face. I saw one man with actual fabric whiskers. It was a little disturbing.
One of the wonderful things about working in Ingrid’s booth was that people who came by shared stories about their cat(s). Most were happy or funny, but every now and then there was a tearjerker. I think every time I cried, I made the person cry harder. Oops.