PRETTY kitties

This is one cat show where the cats have it easy. The owners are put on the spot.
BAZETTA -- During most of the year, a calico cat named Gabby's favorite place to nap is on top of 13-year-old Katie Marburger's bed, in Niles.
It's fair week, however, and Gabby now sleeps in a tri-level cage in a junior fair barn. Across the aisle, rabbits, ferrets and rodents hang out in their cages. People constantly walk by.
"The cats don't mind it so much because they get a lot of attention," said Barb Ames, an adviser to Silver Claws Cat Club. "After the first day or so, they like it."
Passers-by can complain about the cats' confinement in the lavishly decorated, multileveled and curtained cages, "but they are not getting butchered at the end of the week," Ames said.
In top shape: Those 16 cats in the cat club show are perhaps the most attended-to felines in Trumbull County. Their owners, children between ages 8 and 16, go to the Silver Claws monthly meetings to learn about cat health and cat care. None of them, all but one of whom were girls, were about to bring a flea-bitten or ear mite-infested cat to the county fair. And even if they did, the cat's ears are checked as part of the judging.
This is one cat show where the cats have it easy. The owners are put on the spot, and quizzed about feline anatomy, sexing kittens, taking a cat's pulse and preventing fur balls.
Two children got perfect scores in the competition, which also included an evaluation of the cleanliness and safety of cages. The cages' decor -- curtains, wind chimes, fake plants -- is looked over for a separate contest.
The judges said the children did well this year. Two girls got perfect scores. For others, however, the tension was too high.
"You know they know the answers, but when you put some of them up there, their minds go blank," said Joan Travers, one of the judges.
Not Lori Vannelli, 16, of Howland, named grand champion with her calico Emma. Was Emma proud?
"I think she should be," Vannelli said.
For the record, you check a cat's pulse by slipping two fingers in its front armpit, under its shoulder. A healthy pulse is 80 to 150 beats per minute for an old cat, 80 to 170 for a younger cat, and 150 to 200 for a kitten, Vannelli said.

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