Nipawin Pipkin of Tabbyland is her name and she lives in Potomac. Yesterday, a professional cat judge peered into her eyes, stroked her thick, silky hair and then gave her a first prize.
Pipkin was one of more than 150 long-haired cats participating in a two-day benefit cat show in Rosslyn that drew cat-lovers from as far away as Ohio and South Carolina.
Four professional cat judges, licensed by the Cat Fanciers Association, were on hand to assess the feline features of the long-haired Balinese, Himalayan and Persian cats. Short-haired breeds and cats of mixed background - labeled "household pets" on the show - were judged on Saturday.
Barbara Norris, president of the Cat's Meow Cat Club that sponsored the show, said the judges, who are paid 50 cents for each cat they judge, look at the overall condition of the cat, the color of its eyes, and how well it conforms to the characteristics of the breed. "Recalcitrant cats" - those that bite and scratch while being judged - are "evicted from the ring," Norris said.
The "ring" is actually a three-foot square formica board where the cats, one by one, are examined by the judge. Cat-lovers circled the four rings and cheered when the first prize winners were announced.
Meanwhile, other cat-owners were bent in concentration over their cats, patiently combing and recombing their hair in preparation for the trip before the judges.
Most of the proud cat-owners have many more cats at home. Pipkin's guardian, Larry Filson, an attorney with the House of Representatives, has "quite a few." He runs the Winterset Cattery in Potomac.
Thirty-five-year-old Gene Darrah, a vice president of a manufacturing firm, traveled from Akron, Ohio, for the Cat's Meow Cat Show. He left 55 Persians back home.
For some, entering their cats in a show is preferred way to spend a weekend. Fannie H. Cummings of Myerstown, Pa., who broke open a bottle of champagne to celebrate the "premiership" prize her Brown Tabby Persian, "Bandit," won yesterday. She said she attends about 30 cat shows a year.
She likes cats because "they're cuddly, and something to spend my money on." Cummings said she rises at 7 a.m. each day and spends until 2 p.m. grooming, feeding and caring for her 14 cats. She then takes a bath and goes to work as a housekeeper at a hospital until midnight, "I leave the radio on so they aren't lonely," Cummings said.
Norris said one of the reasons for the show, only one of several sponsored by the various cat clubs in the metropolitan area, is to increase the public's awareness of cats. "Until recently, the cat has been a second-class citizen in the animal kingdom. They don't get that much attention," she said.