Feline groovy? Growing cat popularity leads to new Edmonton festival

ABOVE: More than a third of Canadian households have a cat, and the feline frenzy is also growing online. As Laurel Gregory explains, it inspired an Edmonton cat lover to launch a festival to celebrate the movement.

EDMONTON – Look out, dogs. Cats appear to be edging into the position of man’s — or woman’s — best friend.

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About 37 per cent of Canadian households have a cat. More people own cats in both Canada and the U.S. than they do dogs. Yet felines are generally known for being aloof and independent.

Could the growing popularity of cats on the internet change that stereotype?

Organizers of a new event, the Edmonton International Cat Festival, hope so. It will bring together local cat fans to celebrate all things feline on Saturday, June 7. Pre-sale tickets are sold out, but can still be purchased at the door.

The festival is the brain-kitten of Linda Hoang, a self-described “cat mom” to Thor and Loki.

“We’re festival city … why shouldn’t we have a cat festival for cat lovers?”

“I feel like cats are more and more becoming so popular. Becoming the household pet and kind of dominating the internet. So it’s just a good opportunity to start celebrate that.”

An estimated 300 cat lovers will take in videos, exhibitors and presentations at NAIT.

One of the presenters is Hilary Darrah. A video documenting her tabby’s love of water has been viewed a quarter of a million times since it was uploaded in March.

 

“I think dogs and dog owners have dog parks to go to, and there’s sort of that social aspect of dog ownership,” Darrah says. “Whereas, you know, you aren’t taking a cat to a cat park if you’re a cat owner. I think the internet has provided us with that community.”

Hoang agrees: “I think there has always been cat people and cat lovers, but with social media and the internet and just the ease of those platforms, it’s made it really easy to share all of those things.”

A search for cat videos on YouTube can provide endless entertainment.

There are cats in costumes riding robotic vacuums, a cat famous just for looking grumpy and even nyan cat – described  by Wikipedia as “an animated cartoon cat with the body of a Pop-Tart, flying through space, and leaving a rainbow trail behind it.”

WATCH: Family cat races to rescue 4-year-old boy from dog attack 

All profits from ticket sales for the festival will support the Edmonton Humane Society, which is holding “The Great Catsby” adoption event this weekend. Adoption fees for some adult cats will be lowered.

For more information on cats in Canada, see the the report below by The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

With files from Laurel Gregory.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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