The inaugural CatConLA unspooled like the perfect ball of yarn last weekend, with organizers reporting more than 10,000 two-legged attendees turning out for the two-day event, and 74 on-site kitten adoptions through Best Friends Animal Society.
(In case you missed it, our day-of dispatch from the show floor can be found here.)
Held at the Reef in downtown Los Angeles, the brainchild of Susan Michals (creator of last year’s Cat Art Show LA) featured a range of seminars (among them: “Goodbye Dowdy, Hello Gorgeous! Debunking the Cat Lady Myth" and "My Cat is Famous and How I've Dealt with It") and meet-and-greets with celebri-cats (including Lil Bub and Pudge) and a chance for all manner of feline-loving folk to sun themselves on the windowsill of a shared appreciation.
But what made our heads spin (besides the sheer number of cat puns that exist in the universe) was the amount of cat-centric merchandise on offer. After spending the better part of the day prowling the aisles -- about 100 vendors in all -- we’re bringing our five favorite finds back to drop them at your feet.
Judging by the overwhelming number of options on offer, the screened T-shirt seemed to emerge as the default item upon which to declare feline fealty, from Meow United’s “Meowtini: Shaken Not Purred” tee to the official CatConLA T-shirts "Don’t Bother Meow.” One of our favorites struck the perfect balance with simple line drawings of felis catus and slogans such as “I [Heart] Rescue Cats” and “Living in the Meow” ($28, the latter of which also happens to be the name of the label).
Catnip-stuffed toys shaped like marijuana joints and product descriptions cribbed from cannabis culture are the stock in trade of Purrvana Colorado Kitty Kush, an organic catnip concern from -- you guessed it – pot-legal Colorado. Although owner Corinna Santini was also offering her seven different strains of Colorado-grown all-organic leafy matter in tins, it was the joints ($3 each or 3 for $8) that proved to be the big hit. (Santini says a website should be up and running at purrvana.com in the not-too-distant future.)
A robotic feline dubbed Zoomer Kitty made its public premiere at CatConLA on Saturday. The four-wheeled plastic cat (which charges via USB) has sensors in its head, cheeks and ears that respond to petting, eyes that flash different colors depending on mood and settings that include “cuddle mode” and "pounce mode.” Zoomer Kitty ($99.99) won’t hit retail until August and, judging by the crowd standing in rapt attention during a Saturday demonstration, plenty of people have put themselves into pounce mode.
For her cat-toy company Polydactyl, Philadelphia artist Randi Warhol specializes in designing organic-catnip-stuffed inkjet-printed toys that ape the shape, size and look of everyday foodstuffs -- packets of takeout soy sauce, bags of popcorn, fortune cookies and the like. For CatConLA, she created one that featured a photo-realistic image of a sushi roll filled with cucumber crab and avocado -- a California roll.
And, for the cat who has everything, how about a handsome bow tie? Business Catual is a Portland, Ore.-based feline accessories company that uses reclaimed fabrics, including polka dots, plaids, and patriotic flags, to fashion bowties that can be slipped onto any cat collar. Check out their Etsy store here.
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