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Cats on prowl for prizes.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

He's a rebel with paws, James Byron Dean is.

He's also a former national champion, this exotic breed, a gray-haired 7-year-old with a flat face.

"James is just a cute name for a kid," Linda Osburn of Portland said Sunday during the 50th anniversary version of the McKenzie River Cat Club Show at the Lane Events Center, before catching herself and admitting that James Byron Dean (yes, named after the late actor and American icon) is actually "a cat."

A friend had named her cat James Blond, Osburn explained, so she just had to try and top (cat) that, she said.

"He has a lovely body and beautiful muscle tone," said Betty Denny of Portland, who still judges cat shows around the country at age 90. "A beautiful head, it's nice and round."

Charlie Brown might not be OK with that, but for an exotic cat, well, that's just "purr-fect."

It was Denny who started what is now the McKenzie River Cat Club Show under a different name, back in 1959, in Roseburg. When she moved to Eugene in the mid-1960s, the show came with her, and the name got changed from the Fancier Feline Association of Oregon. It's been held at the events center annually ever since.

This year's show was held Saturday and Sunday, and cats had eight chances to be crowned champions. There were four judging rings on Saturday, another four on Sunday.

Cats are judged on conformation, color, size and temperament. Conformation refers to how well an animal conforms to the established breed type for their breed,

The show is put on each year in conjunction with the 103-year-old Cat Fanciers' Association, the largest cat club in the world. Cats are judged on a 100-point scale. They accumulate points as they go from show to show, and the goal of many cat owners and breeders is to get to the nationals in Houston, which are held each November.

Mark Rowe of Corvallis brought Dances With Mice, his green-eyed, rust-colored Somali breed cat, who had four first-place ribbons heading into the final show Sunday.

"He's the sixth-best cat in the nation right now," Rowe said proudly, as he watched judge Lorna Malinen stretch the 7-year-old cat out for all to see. A neutered male, Dances With Mice competes in the premier class now.

Cats that are still able to breed compete to become grand champions.

That would include Dreamer, a big, fluffy white Himalayan belonging to Kathy Durdick of Vancouver, Wash. Grand champions must defeat 200 other champions to gain that status, Durdick said, moments after Dreamer had been judged second-best all-breed cat in judge Brian Moser's ring.

Pat Kelty of Edmonds, Wash., is a regular at the McKenzie River Cat Club Show. She's been showing her Cornish Rex cats for 34 years now, and they always have Japanese names.

This year she brought Kicho Na, which means "precious" in Japanese. Her late husband fought in Japan during World War II, explained Kelty, who was wearing all purple, including purple shoes with cat figures on them.

"I love it," said Kelty, 84, of breeding and showing cats. "It's fun. It's the best hobby I can think of."
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Meow! Annual tradition with feline favorites enjoys its 50th year
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 16, 2009
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