The Benefits of Joining a Cat Social Group
By Kim Boatman
The idea of cats and their owners socializing might seem a little like, well, something dogs and their owners would do. But if you’re looking to meet like-minded cat owners, it can be a fun and rewarding time. “I had a great time bonding over awesome people and cats,” says Chris Adams, a Meow Mingle mixer participant. “We are a different breed from dog people.”
Cat-specific Pet Events
After hosting Mutt Mingles for five years, Pussy & Pooch kicked off its Meow Mingle series earlier this year with a quinceanera for Minx the cat’s 15th birthday, explains Janene Zakrajsek, owner of the boutique. The cat mixers have been quite the hit, says Zakrajsek, who owns locations in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif. One mixer drew more than 20 cats.
Time to Mingle
In this social networking age, we look to make connections with others based on shared backgrounds and interests. Cat owners -- and in some cases, their cats -- are no different. Across the country, cat lovers are finding that they enjoy meeting to discuss common ground: their cats and all things cat-related.
“We love our cats and share their adventures and seek each other’s advice about situations we encounter with our pets,” says Brenda Flahault, president of the Garden State Cat Club of New Jersey.
Sharing Knowledge, Helping Cats
The Garden State Cat Club, among the oldest and largest cat clubs in the country, includes 70 members, some located as far away as Australia and Bermuda, says Flahault. The core group of 35 or so members who live near Clark, N.J., meets for regular dinners and holiday parties. These humans-only outings include programs on specific cat breeds, veterinary care, cat photography, cat massage and other related topics.
“Our members are folks who exhibit cats, breed cats or just love cats, even if they do not have one of their own,” says Flahault. Affiliated with the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the Garden State Cat Club also hosts an annual cat expo and show that’s open to all cats -- mixed breed and purebred. The club works to assist cat-related charities, making donations and collecting toys, food, blankets and more for cat rescue efforts.
Some mixers include cats and their owners, while others simply feature cat lovers who left their four-legged friends at home. Carrie Profenno’s cat-centric community, however, meets via her website, Maine Coon Cat Nation. Her site focuses on all things related to the majestic Maine coon cat.
“Almost every day, cat owners share photos, stories and sometimes videos of their cats. Our regular visitors leave comments and compliments for them. They are a very supportive group,” says Profenno. “It is a very positive and caring community, and I’m so honored to have had a part in it. Our community is from all over the world, so for now it’s a virtual get-together.”
Find or Start Your Own Group
Are you ready to mingle with other cat owners in person or virtually? You can find local CFA clubs through the Cat Fanciers Association, suggests Flahault. “Most clubs are looking for interested members,” she says.
Also, consider starting a club that assists a local shelter by fostering cats and kittens. It’s a good way to meet other cat-lovers and to do good at the same time. Pet boutiques in your area might consider playing host to gatherings as a way to boost business, as Pussy & Pooch does.
It certainly works well at Meow Mingles, says Zakrajsek. “The owners were super-social. There was lots of petting and picture-taking. It is, however, just as much about humans socializing with fellow feline enthusiasts.” That is indeed what you will likely enjoy most about joining a cat-related social group, agrees Flahault.
“The best part of being a member of the cat club is the camaraderie,” says Flahault.
Kim Boatman is a journalist and frequent contributor to The Daily Cat, based in Northern California whose work has appeared in The Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. She is a lifelong lover of animals and shares her home with three cats.