Compared to dogs, it’s fair to say that cats tend to get a bad rap. Whereas dogs get to carry the title of “man’s best friend,” with their wagging tails and wet, slobbery mouths seen as indicative of their bottomless affection, cats are often portrayed as standoffish roommates that might just eat you once you finally kick the can (according to a 2020 paper out of Colorado Mesa University, that last concern probably isn’t something you should be too worried about).
But for local blogger and Edmonton International Cat Festival founder Linda Hoang, a lot of the negative perceptions about cats simply come down to misunderstandings.
“I actually think that it’s this rumour put out by Big Dog,” Hoang laughs. “Cats are so sweet and [they] do show you so much love, but you have to earn it. Whereas with a dog, they will love you no matter what, even if you literally don’t do anything.”
For the record, Hoang herself doesn’t exclusively identify as a cat person. In fact, in addition two her two cats, Thor and Loki, she also owns two dogs. But for a few days near the end of every May, right at the start of what would usually be Edmonton’s festival season, Hoang sheds that objectivity and helps celebrate all things feline with the Edmonton International Cat Festival.
Founded in 2014, the Edmonton International Cat Festival — Cat Fest for short — is set to celebrate its seventh year on May 29 and 30. After first starting out as a film festival that brought together cat lovers to watch cat videos in the NAIT gym, Cat Fest has since expanded into an international celebration featuring celebrity cats, world renowned cat behaviourists and unique cat-themed workshops.
Cat Fest is also intentional about giving back to the community, and this year that means supporting local cat rescues Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS), Little Cats Lost and Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society.
“I knew if I was going to be doing something that was community supported, I wanted it to also do good,” Hoang says. “So we do donate 100 per cent of our net proceeds to cat rescues.”
Programming for this online weekend includes virtual cat yoga, homemade cat food follow-alongs, cat story time with the Edmonton Public Library and a virtual vendor marketplace hosted by ATB Financial. There will also be appearances by celebrity cats White Coffee, One Eared Uno, Great Grams of Gary and MLA Janis Irwin’s Instagram famous kitty, Oregano the Cat.
“Our mission is that we like to celebrate cat culture, as well as cat people and cats,” Hoang says. “So if you’re just interested in some of those topics, absolutely, you’re welcome to come!”