I’ve been to Brony cons and Furry cons. I’ve been to hotel bars run by Klingons and the Alien Con where a speaker said the Greek gods were real. I’m not surprised by much of anything at conventions anymore, but something at CatCon shocked me on a deeply personal level.
After a Saturday at California's Pasadena Convention Center looking over the latest innovations in kitty condos and scratching posts, I was confronted by the image of my cat Lenny twerking on the cover of something called Pussweek, the magazine for cats, by cats.
I looked over the poster-sized blowup of issue two’s cover model. He had Lenny’s golden eyes, his big fat butt, and the black mark on his mostly pink nose. It was Lenny all right, and he is a shelter cat. Sometime during the long, lean years before we adopted him, poor Lenny was driven to pose for this Australian cat porn mag.
“This magazine is not for kittens,” Bexy McFly, the human creator of Pussweek explained before adding that the mag is more the Vogue or GQ for felines than their Penthouse or Hustler.
The issue with my Lenny on the cover features stories on finding the right windowsill for your body type and the terror of being unable to escape from the crinkling of plastic bags, all written from a cat’s point of view. Other issues of Pussweek do boast racy centerfolds of fluffy orange cats showing off their shaggy bellies, however.
“This is for when your cat wants some alone time on the litter box,” McFly said.
When I confront McFly on how my beloved Lenny cat got on the cover of her rag, she said, “Because he’s a sexy beast.” Stunned by McFly’s irrefutable logic, I decided to leave it at that.
Unless you were lucky enough to get into the packed panels starring Lil Bub, Nala and other cat celebs, CatCon was surprisingly free of cats. One place where cats were allowed was the Furever Home Adoption Lounge run by the Pasadena Humane Society (PHS), where those sad humans who find themselves without cats could leave CatCon with a new kitty. Over 60 cats found new homes during day one of the con.
“We’ll only have to bring eight or nine back to the shelter tonight, but we’ll bring them back tomorrow morning with a lot more as well,” Kevin McManus, director of placement at PHS, said.
McManus doesn’t think of the adoptathon at CatCon as anything like the NFL draft, where the best players tend to go quickly in the first round.
“Every cat is a first-round draft pick,” he said. “For every first-round draft pick, there’s also a Tom Brady out there, a seventh-round draft pick who turns out to be a multiple-time MVP of the Super Bowl.”
“Any cat you get here could potentially be the next MVP,” he added. “Definitely the MVP of your house.”
By the time CatCon drew to a close, PHS helped over 150 cats and kittens find new forever homes.
Every month in “Shattering Conventions,” author Bob Calhoun crashes a new tradeshow, convention or conference looking for a way to fit in—even when he doesn't always belong. Calhoun is the author of "Shattering Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and Conflict on the Expo Floor." You can follow him on Twitter at @bob_calhoun.