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Tampa's first KittyCon is coming, and cat lovers are purring

The caretaker of these famous cats Cole, top, and Marmalade, will be at the first KittyCon Tampa Bay on Oct. 27. Tampa resident Chris Poole will be among the speakers at this fan convention for cat lovers. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Sep. 11, 2018

Tampa is getting its first KittyCon and that makes it official: Cat people are having a moment.

A convention at the Holiday Inn Westshore on Oct. 27 will be full of unapologetic cat-bliss for feline lovers to look over catnip-filled toys and meet stray cats for adoption.

KittyCon, described as "a fan convention devoted solely to the love and rescue of cats, for people crazy about cats," is also a fundraiser for the St. Francis Society Animal Rescue.

"Since there are so few events to benefit cat rescue, St. Francis Society, the largest all volunteer animal rescue in the area, is proud to take the lead in producing KittyCon Tampa Bay," said Kathy Walvoord, president and cat care coordinator of St. Francis Society. "The proceeds will allow us to continue the lifesaving work we do for the neonatals, the sick, injured and homeless cats in the community."

Sexist "crazy cat lady" tropes have experienced a backlash in recent years. Taylor Swift and James Franco's unashamed Instagram adoration show that it is possible to be hip and stylish and have a cat. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles CatCon drew a record 16,400 attendees in its third year, ending with a surprise wedding on stage between two cat lovers, with celebrity cats Lil BUB as a bridesmaid and Moshow the Cat Rapper as best man.

These days, well-lit photography and funny captions can take a cat from obscurity to Instagram celebrity. Ask Tampa's Chris Poole, caretaker of famous cats Cole and Marmalade, all about it at KittyCon. He'll talk about the millions of followers his cats have drawn on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

RELATED: How Tampa's Cole & Marmalade got famous, beat cancer and saved more cats

Other guests include Laura Lassiter, former animal communicator for Big Cat Rescue who now consults a variety of clients on ways to improve the lives of their animals, and Cameron Moore of the Million Cat Shelter Project. Atlanta rapper and cat advocate Sterling Davis, and Adam "The Cat Man" Myatt, a musician and photographer whose photos of Oakland's feral cat population turned into the first Cat Town Cafe and Adoption Center in the U.S. will do meet and greets.

There will be vendors, entertainment, a "Meow Ween" costume contest, children's activities, discussion panels and a Vegan Cat Cafe. A highlight of the event is the adoption ballroom sponsored by Maddie's Fund filled with St. Francis Society kitties.

But admission is for humans only. No cats allowed at KittyCon.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at Follow @SharonKWn.


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