Illini Cat Club show2

Illini Cat Club Secretary Mary Auth holds her domestic shorthair, Mario, at her home Friday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Champaign.

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URBANA — For area cat-lovers, here is an event you won’t want to miss.

The Illini Cat Club will host its 28th All-Breed Cat Show on Saturday and Sunday, showcasing around 30 different breeds and some of the country’s top cats, including Maine coons, Bengals, Ragdolls, Cornish Rexes and exotics, among others.

“We do it as a fundraiser and to increase awareness of pedigreed cats and to show we’re not all just about breeding. We are about the benefit of all cats,” said local cat judge Mary Auth, who will be among those officiating at the show.

Held at the Radisson Hotel (1001 W. Killarney St., U), doors are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, with an admission donation of $6 for adults and $5 for children. Children under 3 get in free.

The two-day event will feature an agility competition, rescue groups with information booths and vendors with cat-related items for sale.

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine — which has been working on a research project funded by the WYNN Foundation to develop surgical techniques for cats and dogs with short faces — will also have a presence.

In addition to being a judge, Auth is also secretary for the Illini Cat Club. She has held many other positions during the club’s 40 years.

“I’m the only original member left,” she said.

The club formed in 1980 when a few locals bonded over their love of cats.

Some were showing cats in Chicago and wanted to bring that experience to Champaign-Urbana. Minus a nine-year hiatus, the show has been a staple ever since.

Cats available for adoption can also compete in the show, and “historically, we’ve adopted just about every cat we’ve brought,” Auth said.

Auth also said the club will be collecting cat and dog food at the door that will be donated to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

“People who need food, if they have pets, we want to make sure the pets are taken care of, too,” she said.

While research shows the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats, is growing worldwide, it is getting smaller in the United States, mainly due to high show costs, an aging population, lack of commitment to a breeding program and stricter breeding laws.

“We used to have 350 cats at a show, and now we’re lucky if we get 150 or 160,” Auth said.

But for her, nothing beats the camaraderie.

“That’s one of the neatest things about cats, and animal lovers in general,” Auth said. “All around the world, you’ve got a friend.”