Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton’s International Cat Festival

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton’s International Cat Festival.

Jackson Galaxy’s Cat CampYpres Festival of the Cats in Belgium & Edmonton’s International Cat Festival in Canada top the list of cat related events for May.

If you want to get your ‘cat fix’ without taking your cat with you, these are the ideal, most cool cat events, and you don’t want to miss out. They promise to be Cat-stravaganzas, and they’ll top off the list of an impressive list of absolutely pawsome activities this summer.

If you can’t make it this year, put them on your future to-do, cat event lists, they’ll be most likely rolling around next year – that is except the Ypres Cat Festival in Belgium, which is only held every three years.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton’s International Cat Festival

 

Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp

May 5 & 6, 2018

New York City

This weekend, May 5 and 6, Cat Camp is returning to New York City with a new partner and name – Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp. It promises to be a weekend-long Cat-Stravaganza at Penn  Pavilion, centrally located across the street from Penn Station on 34th Street and 7th Avenue. Cat Camp is the only event in the country where patrons can arrive donning their finest cat ears and leave as the next generation of impassioned rescue advocates. What’s sets Cat Camp off from other cat events, is that it is not only a festival and celebration of cats, it is rooted in advocacy and loaded with information about how to collectively work together to help our feline friends.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

That should be no surprise as Jackson Galaxy is a renowned cat behavior expert airing his knowledge on Animal Planet’s ‘Cat From Hell’.

This feline-focused festival, which first took place in 2017, was created to bring cat lovers of all kinds together under one roof to meet their idols of the cat world, shop for every kind of cat merchandise imaginable, discuss how we can collectively do more to help our feline friends, and – most importantly – to have fun mingling with fellow cat lovers.

The weekend event is being organized by Christina Ha, the founder and co-owner of the Big Apple’s first renowned cat cafe, Meow Parlour, and president of its affiliated nonprofit rescue and adoption group, Meow Parlour Cats.

Jackson Galaxy, now co-owner of Cat Camp, will not only be hosting the event, but he will also be the weekend’s keynote speaker. Attendees will also have a change to take-in in some engaging panel offerings and hear some featured guests and presenters. There will be meet-and-greets, breakout workshops with the city’s community cat experts and nationally-recognized rescue professionals, as well as a colorful, child friendly activities. The exhibition area will also feature some very cool cutting-edge cat gear for both cats and their humans.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

Jackson Galaxy is a true cat advocate, through his books, ‘Cat From Hell’ series on Animal Planet, and now Cat Camp.

It turns out last year’s event, sponsored by Purina One, was wildly popular. This year’s extravaganza promises to be even bigger and better, as it will span two floors, with 15,000 additional square feet of space, and be able to showcase nearly 300 adoptable cats, many of them seniors and with special needs. In last year’s event,  over 60 cats featured in the adoption area were adopted into loving “furever” homes, and $15,000 was raised for the non-profit groups involved. Now that is some serious help to those cats.

On his blog, Jackson says, ‘As soon as I walked through the doors to speak at last year’s inaugural Cat Camp, I was instantly overtaken with an indescribable sense of joy. At first, I thought I was being swept up in the high-energy celebration of all things feline, but then I realized there was something deeper that informed that emotion; at the heart of that celebration was a true feeling of community, a sense that I was surrounded by ‘my people.’ These were not only cat lovers, but cat rescuers, cat advocates, people who loved cats to the point that they would parade around in their finest cat ears and also do something for the good of all cats. After spending time soaking it all in, delivering the keynote address and spending time with Christina and her husband Simon, I knew I HAD to be a bigger part of Cat Camp. Now that we’ve joined forces, you can expect Cat Camp to be even bigger and better in 2018, with more celebration, more fun, more adoptable animals, more education and advocacy. This is a party which will have a lasting impact for those who love cats, and, most importantly, for the cats who need us.’

One caveat, don’t bring your cat. Cat Camp is set up to help rescue cats, nd be an advocacy tool to raise funds in their behalf.

Cat Camp sponsors include: Petco Foundation, Litter Genie, Halo, Petmate, Tomlyn, and World’s Best Litter. Tickets are on sale now at catcampnyc.com/tickets

Paws signed up for their newsletter so we can keep our readers up to date on this wildly exciting event. Who knows, maybe it can be on our list of must-do cat vacations for 2019. We just love New York City!

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

Ypres’ Kattenstoet,  the Festival of the Cats

May 12 & 13, 2018

Ypres, Brussels

Held every three years, the Ypres Cat Festival in the heart of the city features a contemporary parade, set for Sunday, May 13 at 3 pm, full of Ypres history with floats, giant cats, music groups, theatre and a very large number of ‘cats’. Kattenstoet wraps up with the historic throwing of the cats, which while fun, is set in a time that was very bad for cats.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

Minneke Poes, also known as Pussycat, is one of the highlights of the Ypres Cat Festival.

Paws questions whether the Middle Age tradition of throwing of the cats from the belfry in Ypres Town Square symbolize killing evil spirits, or was it way to just get the cats out of the tower once they had completed their job of rodent control? Both legends surround the ‘throwing of the cats’, a part of Belgium’s Ypres’ Kattenstoet, also known as the Festival of the Cats. And it is uncertain which is true; however, it possible that there’s truth in both theories.

Throwing cats from the belfry tower of Cloth Hall is a tradition that took hold in the Middle Ages, and continued until 1817. Many Europeans did believe that cats were intertwined with witchcraft – whether as companions to the witches, or as an actual incarnate of the witch. The European church cracked down on witchcraft, and with that, the connection of any cats’ connection with sorcery came into question. Cats were executed in-mass in various parts of the continent.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Gallaxy’s Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton’s International Cat Festival

Today, this celebration is re-created by throwing stuffed animals from the tower. The celebration, held once every three years, is held the first Saturday in May, held regularly since 1955.

The Festival of the Cat is mix of reality and fantasy, of legends and historical fact, as spectators stand with hands stretching into the sky, hoping to catch one of the stuffed cats. A more subdued legend has it that the cats were brought to Cloth Hall (Lakenhallen) to control vermin. Ypres was a cloth city, which was big business. The wool, imported from England, was stored in the Cloth halls until it was sold to the artisans. After the wool was processed into cloth, it was returned to the halls where it remained until it was time for the annual fair.

Wool was stored in the upper floors, and the cats kept the rodents at bay. Once spring took hold and the wool was gone, legend says the cats were tossed out of the belfry. Perhaps, as cats can be very prolific, and multiply profusely, there were just way too many cats.

The earliest descriptions of cat throwing was documented from 1410-1420. linking the cat throwing with the Ascension Fair that was in existence back in 1127. After the fair was moved to the second week of the Lent in 1476, the cats were thrown on ‘Cats’ Wednesday’. According to the Kattenstoet website, it is believed the cats may have been first thrown off the St Martin’s church. From 1231 on, they were thrown from the Belfry tower.

Today, a jester symbolically tosses children’s toy cats from the Cloth Hall belfry down to the crowd, which awaits with outstretched arms to catch one. The throwing of the cats from the belfry is followed by a mock witch burning. Participants in the festivities often dress as cats, witches, mice, or people from medieval times.

Although Ypres is not the only place where cats were used as victims in numerous folkloristic games, it is one of the few cities where the ritual still happens – albeit with stuffed toys instead of real cats. In medieval times cats were tortured and killed during the ‘Cat fair’ in many West European places. When the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Anjou visited Bruges in July 1582 they were ‘very fittingly welcomed with a beautiful device’ according to an old text.’ This ‘beautiful device’ consisted of a ship with a high mast that was placed in the center of the Market Square.  Fireworks were placed on the ship at different places and when they were lit a mix of crackling powder and cats meowing resounded. When the ship finally was set alight, the animals perished in the flames.

While the parade varies ever three years, there are some constants including information about Ypres Historical City, Ypres Cats’ City, Cat worship in history, Cats in Language and Legend, the Cat around the World etc.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

Giant cats at the Ypres Cat Festival

Among the Ypres Giant Cats are Cieper, who is six meters high and weighs 180 kilograms and Minneke Poes (Pussycat). When we search the Internet for information about the festival, we often see their photos (also shared on this post). It turns out there’s a bit of romance between the two cats. We find that in 1960 there was an exchange between the Bears’ parade in Zwevegem and the Ypres Cat Parade. Minneke Poes, honorary citizen of Zwevegem, walked in the parade on May 8. A few months later both giant cats got engaged in the Bears’ parade in Zwevegem. Cieper, madly in love, literally caught fire when he touched a few power cables… In 1971 Minneke Poes was donated to Ypres, and in 2003 she was fully renovated.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Gallaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

Edmonton International Cat Festival

Saturday, May 26, 2018, 10am to 5pm

MacEwan University, Downtown Edmonton

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

The Edmonton International Cat Festival is the only festival of its kind in Canada, bringing together cat lovers to celebrate cats and cat culture, while raising money and awareness for important cat rescue organizations! One hundred percent of all proceeds go back to local rescue organization.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Gallaxy’s Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton’s International Cat Festival

Since 2014, the Edmonton CatFest has raised $60,000 for local rescues helping cats in need. Their mission is to put on an a-meowzing event bringing together cat lovers from all over, to celebrate cats, cat culture, and raise money and awareness to support organizations that help cats in need.

And there’s lots of fun to be had. Come meet Nala, the world’s most popular Instagram act with over 3 million followers, and her also-super-cute and popular brother Coffee! Take a photo with Nala and Coffee, and don’t forget to visit the Nala/Coffee Merchandise Booth after! You can also learn more about Nala and Coffee during their Q&A on the Main Stage at 1 to 1:30 pm.

You can also meet Travis Deslaurier, a popular actor, model, and fitness star who rose to fame on Instagram with his ginger cat Jacob! Take a photo with Travis and don’t forget to visit the Travis & Jacob Merchandise Booth. You can also learn more about Travis during his Q&A on the Main Stage at 1:30-2pm. Another event you won’t want to miss out on is his ‘Workout with your cat” fitness demo from 3:30-4:30.

Other musts at the Edmonton’s CatFest include:

  • Edmonton’s leading escape room experts Escape City have put together a custom pop-up, cat-themed escape room “Litter-ary Cat-astrophe!” Gather a group of friends and give it a try.
  • Rex Ruffigan is up to his old tricks. The evil master-mutt has found a way to jump into the pages of the most famous cat-tales and rewrite the characters as canines! It’s your job to trace his tracks, erase his edits, and return the fabled felines to their rightful roles in hiss-tory.
  • Cats On Your Mat Yoga, presented by the Edmonton Humane Society gives you a chance to relax, stretch and hang out with cats–on your mat! The Edmonton Humane Society will be leading this unique yoga experience throughout the festival.
  • Relax and play some cat-themed board games provided by the Table Top Cafe! Like what you play? Buy the games to play at home!
  • Stop by for some kid-friendly cat crafts including cat coloring, paper bag cats, get cat face painting done and more! Additionally, you can check out some impressive cat LEGO art pieces and learn how to create your own! Lego workshops run throughout the day from our LEGO experts and enthusiasts at A.I.M.B.O.T.
  • Browse cat-themed books and sit in as librarians with the Edmonton Public Library read cat-themed Storytime! Imagine a Giant Cat Puzzle. How fast can you solve our giant cat puzzle? Quickest time under 5 minutes wins a prize! All participants will also be entered into a draw for a prize as well.
  • Thinking of giving a cat or kitten in need their furr-ever home? Do it at the Cat Festival! Learn about the adoptable cats the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS) has available and consider giving them a furr-ever home! Don’t forget to visit the EHS Bingo’s Pet Store to stock up on some items for your furry friends.
  • Open Sky Pictures, the team behind TELUS Optik’s Kitten TV channel, presents Kitten Town: live! No actors – no dialogue – JUST KITTENS. ENDLESS KITTENS! Drop by throughout the day as the production crew film kittens from Little Cats Lost playing on Kitten TV’s impressive TV set. While you’re at it, look into adopting these kittens through Little Cats Lost!
  • Use a laser pointer to help guide an adorable kitten through Zoe’s Animal Rescue’s Cat Fest Kitten Maze! Also consider adopting Zoe’s cats and kittens!
  • Hop in the box (a pet play fence) and spend some quality time cuddling with SAFE Team Rescue’s kittens! You can also look into adopting these cutie cats.
  • Show Cats with the Edmonton Cat Fancier’s Club, exotic breed / show cats community in Edmonton is bigger than you might think. See some of the most unique cats in Edmonton and learn about the world of show cats with the Edmonton Cat Fancier’s Club.
  • Additionally, The Edmonton Cat Fanciers Club presents mock cat show judging demonstrations! Ever wonder what it’s like to bring your cats to a cat show? How do they win ribbons? What do judges look for? Stop by and check out these exciting mock cat show demos.
  • From the creators of the Rust Magic Street Mural Festival, stop by and watch Edmonton artists paint a Cat Festival-themed, totally Instagrammable Mural LIVE at the festival! Don’t forget to snap your photos with the freshly finished wall and post online using #IGWallsofYEG!
  • From toys, accessories and furniture for your cat, to cat-themed clothes and accessories for you – there’s something for everyone at the Edmonton International Cat Festival. Shop great cat goodies from more than 20 Edmonton cat-themed vendors including some of their sponsors Homes Alive Pets, Petland, and the Cat Cafe on Whyte.

Three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton's International Cat Festival

What do you think about these three must do Cat Events in May 2018, Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp, Ypres Cat Festival & Edmonton’s International Cat FestivalDo you have a favorite cat event? Do you try to get a big dose of cat while on vacation, even though you can’t take your cat with you? What’s your favorite cat destination? Please share, and perhaps Paws can make that our next travel related post.

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BJ Bangs

BJ Bangs is an established journalist, photographer, and an aspiring author. She loves everything about cats, including writing about them.

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