The internet loves cats. That’s in indisputable fact. Type the word “cat” into any gif generator or image search, and you’ll be bombarded with moving pictures and hilarious memes dedicated to the majestic, fluffy creatures. But if your cat obsession is next-level, and you’re looking for an outlet to share that love with others, we’ve got just the place for you: CatCon, a one-of-a-kind cat-loving experience. The event is celebrating its fifth year in 2019, with a two-day extravaganza dedicated to all things cat. And this is no miniscule event, either. CatCon draws crowds of up to 18,000, and lures in celebrities of the human and feline kind.
The founder of CatCon, Susan Michals, recently spoke to Nerdist about the purr-tastic convention. The lifelong cat-lover created the event back in 2015, after the success of her Cat Art Show, in an attempt to celebrate the animal and avoid negative connotations that come with cat ownership. “Fanaticism doesn’t have to be negative,” Michals explained. “It just means that you’re passionate. I’ve tapped into this community of animal lovers that are fanatically passionate about their pets, and it crosses over into how they live their lives.”
Here’s everything we learned about CatCon from Michals and what we can expect at this year’s event.
Millennials love cat content.
Michals was largely inspired by the intense cat love coming from the millennial set. As we said above, cats are always popular on the internet, and Michals sensed that that voracious love would cross over to marketing and events. “There was this younger demo of cat lovers that was untapped,” she said, noting that the first CatCon back in 2015 netted about 12,000 attendees. Of that 12,000, 90 percent were millennials. Turns out we’re not just spending our money on avocado toast―we’re also keeping the cat market afloat!
Cat “celebrities” make the trek to be there.
One of the most exciting things for cat lovers is the opportunity to meet famous cats and cat owners. CatCon provides that opportunity with their sponsored meet and greets, where guests pay to meet well-known internet cats, with most of the proceeds going to animal-related charities and shelters. In the past, CatCon has hosted cats like Lil’ Bub, although Michals says she favors up-and-coming talent over huge names. “We like to be the launching pad,” she admits.
This year, attendees can meet Instagram cats like The Dark Lord, Pudge, Sukiicat, and many more. They can also get a photo taken with one of TV’s most famous cat lovers, Angela Kinsey, who played the cat-obsessed Angela Martin on NBC’s The Office. Proceeds for photos with Angela will go to Milo’s Sanctuary.
People don’t bring their cats to CatCon – but you can adopt one there.
CatCon gets a ton of foot traffic, but it’s mostly of the two-legged variety. Aside from celebrity cat guests, no outside cats are allowed into the venue. “Imagine if 16-to-18,000 people also brought their cats,” Michals explained. “There would be cat fights!”
But that doesn’t mean CatCon is totally void of live cats. The Best Friends Animal Society―a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters―is bringing a number of cats and kittens of all ages to CatCon, where they’ll be available for adoption at the Adoption Village. To date, CatCon has gotten 504 cats adopted, and they hope to expand on that number for 2019.
CatCon has its own Kitty Cosplay competition.
Ever wanted to dress up as your favorite cat? CatCon has your back! The Furr-ocious Fashion Face-Off lets attendees dress up in their best cat gear and strut their stuff. Only the most dazzling contestant can win. According to Michals, one notable past contestant wore a jumpsuit that he covered with hundreds of cat plushies. “He won the ‘most ferocious’ back in 2016,” she said of the victor. Creativity is key for the Furr-ocious Fashion Face-Off. We can’t wait to see what people come up with this year!
This year will be the biggest CatCon yet.
Speaking of this year, it’s bound to be the biggest in CatCon history. In addition to the famous cats in attendance, the event will also feature a new activation: Purradise City, a cat-centric pop-up experience that will feature six connected spaces with different themes, perfect for your Instagram feed. The experiential “city” will “harken back to that marriage of cats and pop culture,” Michals promises. Admission to Purradise City (“where the litter’s clean and the cats are pretty,” teases Michals) is included in your CatCon ticket, and will include rooms dedicated to “kitty kitsch,” funhouse mirrors, and an “infinity room” sponsored by Temptations cat treats that includes kitty treat packages and LED lights.
In addition to Temptations, sponsors for this year’s CatCon include the ASPCA, Purina, Kat Von D Beauty, and more. Attendees will receive plenty of free SWAG, see their favorite internet cats, and make memories they won’t soon purr-get. “This is a cat-lover’s mecca,” said Michals. “It’s Comic-Con for cat people.”
Images: CatCon/Susan Michals