LIFE Goes to a Cat Show, 1952

Cat show, Los Angeles, Calif., 1952.
George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Caption from LIFE. "J. W. Blackford comes to show carrying one Siamese by the leg and another on shoulder."

During National Cat Week in November 1952, Los Angeles hosted more than 300 felines and their owners from all over the country for America’s biggest cat show of the year. “One couple from Wyoming,” LIFE magazine informed its readers in an issue published a few weeks later, “arrived in grand style in a big green Cadillac with six highly pedigreed cats.”

Other exhibitors brought less aristocratic cats on the trolley [i.e., the now-defunct Los Angeles Railway streetcar system]. Many cages were festooned with ribbons and equipped with castles and thrones and with pans filled with an absorbet deodorizer called Kitty-Litter.

Competition was fierce, with both the cats and owners displaying tempers. The cats caterwauled, clawing at the judges and spitting at each other, while owners muttered charges of bias and politics. . . . Some of the cats were petulant because their owners starved them to make them look lean and svelte, and one judge stopped the show twice to urge exhibitors to feed their pets. “These poor kitties are hungry,” she said, “and we judges are not so stupid that we don’t know the difference between a fed cat and a fat cat.”

In the end, the best cat in show was a blue female longhair called Bentveld Rosemary, the pride of San Antonio, Texas. No word, alas, on the reception she received upon returning home. We can only assume it was commensurate with her achievement.

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