Arielle Castillo

Cat lovers, weep if you are not somehow in Miami this weekend, because that's the host city for the annual World Cat Congress! The enormous sprawling cat show lasts through the weekend, sponsored by the cat-fancy association TICA. The event's location changes country every year, bringing with it an international delegation of vets, scientists, breeders, and fans.

Half of the event is devoted to actual scientific papers, research, and breed discussion—but the other half is very much open to the public all day Saturday and Sunday, combining a ginormous expo with a ginormous cat show. Besides the fancy competitions of top championship cats, think events like the daily “parade of breeds,” cat agility trials, a cat fashion show, a cat-facts game show called Leopardy, and so much more!

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Oh yes, this is for real. And it is magical.

Fusion got a sneak press preview today and we met, petted, and d’awwwwwed over some of the esteemed delegates. Here, meet them, please.

The Lykoi, or the “Werewolf Cat”

Meet one of the newest cats on the TICA block, a partially hairless little guy named for the Greek word for “wolf.” Nope, it’s not a cross-breed from the hairless sphinx breed—rather, the first Lykoi breeder, Cheryl Kerr, says it’s the result of a genetic mutation in a litter of strays.

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Lykoi lovers are still working up to the required minimum number of breed-standard quality cats, but some of the best cats of this kind will appear at the World Cat Congress as part of the steps towards official TICA recognition.

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Here’s a video, which shows off its peculiar kind of cute better than a still photo. (The Lykoi is on the table in the video; the sphinx friend sitting nearby is unrelated.)

The Bengal

These wild-looking creatures were originally bred as a cross between the Asian Leopard Cat—a household cat-size creature from Southeast Asia that, unfortunately, you cannot just have. Now the domesticated versions usually have these super awesome two-color spots known as rosettes.

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This pretty kitty is named Kingsmark Obsidian Shard! The name’s not just a random collection of words, though, explains her breeder, Anthony D. Hutcherson of Jungletrax cattery near Washington, D.C.

“Show cat names explain the lineage of who bred the cat. And also it depicts some aspect of the cat’s personality and looks,” he says. “And it gives the owner an opportunity to flex their creative and artistic muscles, and be a little bit vain in ways that don’t matter in the real world.”

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The vanity is well-deserved. Here’s another photo.

The Toyger

Fun fact: The creator of this breed, Judy Sugden, is the daughter of the breeder who created Bengals, Jean Mill!

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“My mother was already doing Bengals, so I wanted to do something different,” Sugden says. “I started out thinking we ought to do something to make the coat prettier on alley cats.” The result? This mini tiger-looking fellow who does, indeed, have some Bengal blood, but boasts a longer tail and a different face.

The toyger has enjoyed championship status (i.e., totally legitimate competition breed) in TICA since 2007, Sugden says. Now, it’s champion of your heart.

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The Maine Coon

Fancy newcomers and hybrids aside, let’s give some love to the classic, majestic Maine Coon, the largest breed of domestic cat. This ginger beauty is 17-pounder Lena, from Koonary Maine Coons in Dallas, Texas.

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The Ragdoll

These fluffy beauties come just behind Maine Coon in size, taking the slot for second-largest domestic cat breed.

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If one isn’t cute enough (those eyes!) how about double ragdoll vision, courtesy of Cajun Ragdolls from Westlake, Louisiana.

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The Balinese

Meet Pippa, from Alchemy Cattery. Balinese are a long-haired version of the refined and angular Siamese!

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The Abyssinian

Say hi to the awesomely named Lion in the Sun, of Pentacle Cats cattery, north of Tampa, Florida. Pentacle’s founder, Rene Knapp, is also the organizer of this year’s World Cat Congress. Abyssinians are purely domestic cats with a beautiful, wild-look coat, and most versions of its history trace the breed back to Egypt.

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The American Shorthair

The face that launched a thousand internet clicks belongs to the classic American Shorthair, the oldest domestic breed – these stripey fellows came over with the pilgrims.

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The Domestic Pet – i.e., Your Cat Could Be Here!

TICA is the only cat fancy association that allows you to enter your everyday, neutered or spayed cat, and there are no points off for perceived “defects.” So one-eyed, three-legged, torn-ear cats are all good! The point is to celebrate cats in general, introduce people to the fancy, and promote cat rescue. There’s even a household kitten division.

Meet Rebel, a winning domestic cat who lives with the humans of Cajun Ragdolls.

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Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.