The pretender to the throne, Currle Cat Giggles, did not look at all amused. She just sat perfectly still on the table, a red, long-haired Persian looking much like a troll princess, or like Yoda in a wig, sniffing occasionally with her wall-flat nose, scanning some unknown horizon with her neon-yellow eyes.
For this audience she had been removed from her cage, an aluminum affair in the basement of Cindy and Kenny Currle's Falls Church home, one of several cages holding eight of her female subjects and one restless male, Grand Champion Currle Cat Cory. With any luck, CC Giggles is on her way to a Cat Fanciers Association grand championship herself, following 15 of her Currle Cat cattery mates, including the famous Grand Champion Currle Cat Rosettes and Grand Champion Currle Cat Chrissy.
CC Giggles will vie for more points toward her throne Saturday and Sunday at the 1983 National Capital Cat Show at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington.
For $3 at the door, an expected 7,000 show-goers will be treated to a parade of breeds, grooming demonstrations, seminars on natural breeding, mutant breeds and colors and, of course, the presence of the current reigning grand champion, South Paw Sunburst of Rome, Ga.
More than 350 cats are entered, representing Cat Fanciers Association local branches, such as the Hidden Pete Cat Club, the Cat's Meow, the Capital Cat Fanciers, Mark and Linda (the name of a club) and Chocolate City Cat Club (founded in Hershey, Pa.).
CC Giggles belongs to Cindy and Kenny Currles, who are the past secretary and past president, respectively, of the Cat's Meow club. For Cindy Currle, a mother of four, and Kenny, a gasoline station mechanic, the National Capital show is more than just a weekend at the local community center. For the Currles, breeding and "campaigning" cats is a way of life.
It began, the Currles said, 10 years ago, when they bought their first cat, a "pet-quality" Persian. The person who sold them the cat told them about a cat show. Cindy had shown horses when she was a youngster and was curious.
They went and, said Cindy: "It was mind-boggling. There were so many different cats, so much to learn. I guess we got bitten by the cat-show bug. . . . Kenny and I always loved to compete--he used to play baseball and basketball in high school and I used to run track--so we figured with cats we could share an interest and be competitive, too."
Since then, the Currles, both in their 30s, have averaged about 15 cat shows a year, traveling all over the country at their own expense to compete for ribbons. Through a breeding operation that they have developed, selling potential champion cats at $600 to $1,000 per kitten, they have managed to break even on their feline hobby.
"Like anything, with cats you apply your knowledge, skill, determination and intuition, and when you're successful, it's gratifying and, of course, you want to pursue it further," Cindy Currle said. "There's a real art to campaigning cats. You can have a potential champion cat, but if you don't know how to groom it and take care of it, you're not going to have a winner."
For Mark Hannon, 32, a Labor Department branch chief, cats are a major way of life. The Cat Fanciers Association vice president for the southern region, Hannon goes to 35 or more shows a year, at an out-of-pocket cost of $8,000 to $10,000 a year, he says.
"I've been involved with cats for so long, virtually all my friends are in cats," Hannon said. "It's my whole social life."
Hannon, who will be showing a long-haired Persian called Kagun this weekend, said that for most members of the Cat Fanciers, "it's got to be a social thing. Only 10 cats of the 300 entered in a show are going to win anything, so hopefully the people aren't going to get bitter about it. Cat fanciers are great partiers. There are cat shows at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. How can you go wrong in cities like that?"
"The ultimate thing is to compete, I guess," Kenny Currle said. "I mean, when you first come into Cat Fanciers as a novice, people aren't real friendly. It's a lot of peer pressure, a very competitive atmosphere."
"We did find people who were willing to help us as newcomers," Cindy Currle said, "but we had to talk to a lot of people before we found some that were willing to help."
"But I guess, too," Kenny Currle added, "the important thing is the cats themselves. They're beautiful animals. Tell the public to come and watch. Once you see a cat show, you're going to get hooked. No two ways about it."