Cats rule the Internet. And this weekend, they'll also rule Los Angeles.
CatConLA is returning to the Reef in downtown L.A. on June 25 and 26 for all things feline. As many as 20,000 attendees are expected, along with 200 or so exhibitors and vendors, as well as 100 cats and kittens that will be available for adoption.
Because this is L.A., celebrities of both the human and animal variety will also be there. (Sadly, your cat cannot come, no matter how well-behaved it is on a leash.)
The first CatCon was last year. At that event, Susan Michals, the creator of CatCon, said she expected 8,000 to 10,000 people to show up; the final attendance tally was just over 12,000 — 70% of whom were 18 to 34.
When she first thought of CatCon, Michals was a supervising producer at E! Entertainment. After the runaway success of the first show, she decided to quit her job and devote herself to cats and art. In addition to CatCon, she's a freelance art journalist, and she runs the Cat Art Show that celebrated its second year in March.
She can easily spout off famous cat owners throughout history, from Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse to Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Karl Lagerfeld, and she's got cat puns: Phrases like "a-meow-zing" and "America's Next Top Meow-del" permeate her conversation. She is clearly a person who is zealous about cats and cat culture, and that enthusiasm informs every aspect of how she puts the festival together.
"I curate every single booth, every single vendor," she said. Her goal for CatCon is to dispel the myth that people who love cats are "crazy cat ladies," so she turns away any proposed exhibitor or sponsor who wants to feed into that stereotype.
"If we're going to change a perception, it has to be across the board, visually as well," she explained. "This is not a Cat Fancier show. CatCon is the nouveau cat lady."
Arguably one of the biggest celebrities who will be in attendance at the convention is Lil Bub. Lil Bub (full name: Lillian Bubbles) is a cat with 1.3 million followers on Instagram. She and her owner, Mike Bridavsky, also were at the inaugural CatCon.
"It was a whirlwind," Bridavsky said of the first CatCon. "For Bub, it's fun. For me, it's a lot of running around and not much sleep and making sure Bub is having fun."
Lil Bub is holding a meet-and-greet to raise money for her ASPCA special needs animals fund. She also is introducing CatVideoFest, hosted by comedian Andy Milonakis, at the nearby Ace Hotel on Saturday night, and closing out the convention with a special live episode of "Lil Bub's Big Show," where the cat will interview a special surprise guest.
Here's what else you can look forward to at CatCon:
A cosplay fashion show featuring “catspirational” attire
A meet-and-greet with Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman on the “Batman” series starring Adam West in the 1960s
A 3,000-square-foot “adoption village” with more than 100 cats and kittens available for adoption
A beauty bar from Kat Von D offering free cat-eye eyeliner application and selling two lipsticks from the model’s makeup line named after her cats
A “caticure” salon offering express cat-themed manicures with decals
An escape room from Animal Planet where you have 15 minutes to get out of a room from the perspective of a cat
A booth where you can get a “caticature” mash-up of yourself and your cat
A kitty coloring area offering cat line-art T-shirts you can color
CatConLA will take place at the Reef at 1933 S. Broadway. Tickets are $25 for one day, and $40 for both days for adults, and $15 and $25 for kids 5-12. Children under 5 get in free. Buy tickets at catconla.com/tickets.