The long and short (tail) of it: Edmonton’s International Cat Festival

EICatFest-Logo As the organizers of the Edmonton International Cat Festival like to say, no–they’re not kitten you right meow. A cat festival is soon to take place in our city. And, honestly, what with the ridiculous amount of cat videos, cat photos, and cat memes littered across the internet, you should have seen this coming.

The #YEGCatFest will take place on June 7 and will feature a full day of cat-related events, including an Internet Cat Video competition, presentations from local cat enthusiasts, and virtual appearances from three celebrity cats.

As if that isn’t enough to send you clicking away at the Buy Tickets link, there will also be food trucks in attendance.

One hundred percent of ticket sale profits, along with any donations, will go directly to support the Edmonton Humane Society, who will also be on site at a booth (with cats).

It’s a veritable smeowrgasbord of feline abundance.

To learn more about the event, we chatted with Cat Fest Founder (and Cat’s Meow), Linda Hoang, who gave us a breakdown of how she came up with the idea for the festival and what we can expect to see at the event.

Linda Hoang

How did you come up with the idea for the Edmonton International Cat Fest?

The Edmonton International Cat Festival is inspired by the Walker Arts Internet Cat Video Festival, which originated in Minnesota back in 2012. That festival – incredibly – drew a crowd of more than 10,000 people!

I have always wanted to organize an event that involves some of my passions, all while supporting a great cause, so the idea to get cat lovers together for a big celebration while raising money for the Edmonton Humane Society just fit.

I was further inspired when I saw there would be a touring Canadian Internet Cat Video Festival that started in Toronto this year. Edmonton wasn’t on their list of stops, so that was sort of the final push. People love cats. The Internet loves cats. Edmontonians love cats. There is an audience for this kind of festival and I’m actually surprised something like it hasn’t been done here. It really is a first-of-its-kind event in the Edmonton area!

What do you hope this festival will achieve?

I want the festival to increase the profile and popularity of cats and raise awareness for cat welfare. I want the festival to bring like-minded people together for a truly unique and special day.

I think there’s a stereotype that cat people are crazy or maybe not all that sociable but that’s really not the case. There are more and more cat people today than there ever have been.

But really, it’s just a great opportunity to get a bunch of cat lovers out and celebrate these animals that have become such a huge part of so many people’s lives and, at the same time, helping an important non-profit organization.

Edmonton Cat Fest 2

Tell us a little bit about the Cat Fest. What can cat lovers expect to find?

The festival schedule is packed! The Festival will feature a fun-filled line-up of international feline footage (that’s the Internet cat videos part). There will be a local internet cat video contest with judging and prizes. There will be a cat photo beauty pageant where we will name a Mr. and Mrs. Purr-fect. There will be fantastic presentations from local cat enthusiasts including topics such as: The Future is Meow: What’s Turning Us Into Cat People? (Omar Mouallem) and How My Cat Video Went Viral and How Yours Can Too! (Hilary Darrah)

We’ll have a cat vendors ‘market’ where different vendors will showcase and sell cat-related products including CATMAN Furniture, cat-themed jewellery, cat books, cat art prints, cat toys and accessories, and there will also be information booths from the Humane Society, NAIT Animal Health program, and the Edmonton Cat Fanciers Club.

At those information booths we’ll have actual cats – some will be adoptable from the Humane Society, the others – just as a nice addition to displays – showing different cat breeds. We’re bringing in three of Edmonton’s newest food trucks – Afterbite Mobile Kitchen, Perogy Princess and Attila the HUNgry, and there will be (virtual) appearances from three very well-known celebrity cats!

It really is a packed festival with something for all cat lovers! I am so excited to be partnering with the Edmonton Humane Society on this festival and very grateful to NAIT Animal Health programs for being our fantastic venue sponsor.

Are there any aspects of the event’s program that you think make this festival really stand out?

The fact that we’re bringing in celebrity cats – albeit virtually – is a huge draw.

I think the presentations and “market/vendors” component also makes this festival unique from any other cat or cat video festival that exists. It really is taking the core cat video/film festival idea but expanding on it to include so much more. There will be something for everyone and the fact that it supports a terrific organization – the Edmonton Humane Society – is just the icing on the cake.

Why do you think it’s important to foster cat culture in Edmonton?

It’s alarming the number of cats who need homes, live in shelters, and who aren’t spayed and neutered.

Improving cat welfare is a huge part of why it’s important to foster cat culture in Edmonton and I think the internet and social media has been a great way to do just that.

I think the more we can celebrate and bring attention to how wonderful these animals are – and the more attention we can put on improving cat welfare – the better. This festival will hopefully do that, but also create some pretty special connections among cat lovers in Edmonton – in a very fun setting!

@Lindork: Quick Answers

Edmonton Intl Cat Fest PosterWhat is your favourite breed of cat?

Both of my cats are regular ol’ tabbys and I love them but long-hair breeds like Maine Coons and Ragdolls are just gorgeous. I love looking at them.

What’s worse: furballs or cat hair on your clothes?

Cat hair! I’m actually quite lucky my cats never cough up furballs but I’ve got a lot of cat hair.

Do you talk to your cat(s) as if they were human?

Absolutely. I’m always talking to them and I swear – they understand me!

Cat onesies: yea or nay?

Nay – but I do love most cat pants, shirts and accessories!

And, the kicker: are cats better than dogs?

Yes! But don’t get me wrong – I love dogs, too. Cats are just so funny and quirky and clever.

Edmonton International Cat Festival
June 7, 2014
NAIT Shaw Theatre
RSVP on Facebook

As an added treat, we’ve partnered with the Northern Nerd Network to bring you this video interview with Linda Hoang at the Edmonton Humane Society. Enjoy!

Photos: Supplied

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