Physics teacher Glenn Mangold crouches down to be with cat art at CatCon in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo used by permission of Mangold)

Physics teacher listens to seminars, attends cat fashion show at CatCon

Physics teacher Glenn Mangold and his wife Julie Sheldon attended CatCon in Pasadena on Aug. 4 and 5, the full duration of the convention for ailurophiles (cat lovers).

Q: How did you decide to go there?

A: My wife is a veterinarian, and she heard about it. She gets a lot of animal notifications and emails and stuff like that. So she knew all about it and asked me if I wanted to go, and I said, ‘Yes.’ We bought tickets about a month beforehand.

Q: Did you bring your cats?

A: No, you’re not allowed to do that. It’s not a place where you bring your cats. It’s for cat-lovers. There are cats there.

They have two sections. They have a bunch of cats from local shelters that are up for adoption, so you can walk into that area and pet them and get to know them.

And then the other thing they have is celebrity cats. There’s Grumpy Cat. There’s Morris, who does the commercials for the 9Lives cat food company and so forth. So they had maybe 10 or 20 celebrity cats. You could pay to have your picture taken with them. The cost ranged from $25 to $100 for you to get your picture taken with them. My wife happened to get a (picture) ticket randomly for free. So she had her picture taken with Morris the 9Lives cat.

Q: What was CatCon like?

A: The convention center it’s in is huge, like the size of a huge Walmart, and one enormous room – it’s like walking into a Target or something – is all vendors and special exhibits and so forth. A lot of people try to sell cat food, automatic litter boxes, the latest toys, things to stimulate your cat’s intelligence, places for your cat to sleep (and) T-shirts with all these different cat pictures and cat sayings – every possible thing you could think of, plus a ton of free samples. My wife just walked around and scarfed up free samples – new medical things for your cat.

They had food and drink as well.

Then they had two other rooms. One was for the picture taken with a celebrity cat. The other one was for a seminar, and every two hours they would have a seminar.

Q: What were the seminars about?

A: Some of them were pretty technical. The one that stands out in my mind was the latest state of medical marijuana for pets. And (the booth workers would say) whether it was actual marijuana that a human would use or an extract that’s put in a pill or an injection, and (the employees) went through the medical uses and how you’d use it if your pet has done chemotherapy. My wife was taking notes.

Some were just kind of fluffy and fun. Another one was how to become a foster parent for cats. What your room should look like, what are efficient ways to deal with the litter in the dirt and introduce (the foster cats) to your other pets and so forth. That was good because we have foster cats. Over the years, we have taken in three or four old, sick cats and cared for them. We fostered one litter of five kittens last year and kept two of them.

Q: I heard there was a fashion show?

A: They had a cat a fashion show – but not for cats. It was for people because there were a lot of people there dressed as cats. The woman who won first place in the fashion show looked like she had just stepped out of the musical “Cats.” She did the whole head-to-toe costume from the musical “Cats.”

Q: How many people dressed up?

A: I think that about 50 entered the fashion show. But there were a lot more people who were dressed up that didn’t enter the show. A lot of people just were wearing cat T-shirts or cat ears. They were giving away cat ears for free, so everyone was walking around with cat ears.

Q: Did you dress up?

A: No, I didn’t dress up. I kind of wished I had. I have a tie that has a bunch of kitten faces on it, and I wish I’d brought it, but I forgot. My wife wore the cat ears.

Q: Did anything funny happen?

A: One guy was about maybe 28 years old, and his 58-year-old mother dragged him to CatCon. It was clear that they got along very well. But as he called it, his “protest” (was that) he wore a T-shirt that had a drawing of a dog chasing a cat. And underneath it had the words “fast food.” He said, “This is my protest T-shirt.” I saw one other dog T-shirt.

Everyone was really nice, too. Two days, hundreds and hundreds of people, and I never heard anyone lose their temper or raise their voice. Everyone got along really well, which (was in) contrast to driving there and back. (There were) a lot of angry drivers.

Q: How did it compare to conventions you’ve been to in the past?

A: I really haven’t been to any conventions. It’s similar to before a big race like the New York Marathon with a huge Walmart-sized room where they’re just selling things.

These conventions are partly for cat-lovers to get together, adopt cats, pet cats and have fun things like a fashion show. That’s half of it.

But the other 50 percent is the vendors (who) are making a lot of money. So it was similar (to the New York Marathon) in that way. Any convention is gonna have a lot of selling going on.

Q: Will you go again next year?

A: No, I think we’ll do something different. Maybe in 10 years or something, but it would just be more of the same, so we might go to some other convention.

(My wife and I are) really into reptiles. We have a couple of tortoises, and Julie used to be a zookeeper and did some wildlife veterinary medicine, so she’s into all types of animals. So I can see (us) going to a birders convention for bird-watching or reptiles or something. But not cats again.

Q: Would you recommend it to other cat-lovers?A: If you love cats, it’s a lot of fun. Go to the website, and see if it’s something you’d like. It’s not expensive. I think it was $60 for two days for one person. But staying in downtown Pasadena is expensive.

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