This weekend I was a part of the Catsbury Park Cat Convention and all I can say is WOW!!! I have attended several other cat conventions and while I have loved all of them, being involved in the planning, on staff during the event, being a vendor and a part of one of the presentations was so incredibly special I had to share.
First off you need to know how special Catsbury Park is. This beautiful adoption center and cat cafe in Asbury Park NJ is the creation of D.J. Bornschein. If you love cats and haven’t been yet, why? Manager Jamie Nichols is a gifted cat lady and runs the cafe like a well oiled machine, but in a way where every single person feel special and at home. The staff are family to each other, human and the four-legged furry kind. Both Jamie and D.J. are generous, kind people who I am proud to now call my friends, my extended cat family.
The Catsbury Convention was a crazy undertaking seeing as the cafe was just opened last September, but they made it happen and not just happen they killed it! I had the very unique perspective of seeing it from 3 different perspectives. First I was there as a vendor with my non profit, The Brodie Fund. The whole weekend ran beautifully in large part to my amazing board and volunteers, but also thanks to the guidance of the convention staff. Not only did we raise money through selling merchandise and raffles, but we were also chosen by Catsbury Park to be a benefiting non profit. We met such wonderful people at the booth all weekend. We shared stories about our love of cats, actually all animals and as always shed a few tears about cancer. Overall the day was about our shared passion for our furry friends.
In the afternoon I had the pleasure of organizing and moderating Cat Chat- Meet The Experts where a talented panel of cat behaviorists spoke about all of the most frustrating cat behaviors such as litter box avoidance, aggression and furniture scratching. Jane Ehrlich, Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi and Beth Adelman spoke for 90 minutes and at the end of the talk answered questions from the audience. The conversation continued as they headed down to the Catsbury Park booth where they volunteered their time and answered more cat behavior questions throughout the weekend.
Tired yet? Not me, but that was the end of Saturday and my volunteers at The Brodie Fund closed up the booth, then we all headed home for a few hours sleep to rest up for Sunday. (BTW I forgot to mention the crowds….. attendance was out of this world!)
Sunday arrived and I was a mix of exhausted, inspired, excited and energized and I am officially on staff today. My assignment….. Meet and Greets! I have to say that now I become a fan. I have to maintain my composure since I’m a grown up, a professional and a staff member representing Catsbury Park, but I am at the heart of it all a cat lover and a fan. I head over to The Asbury Hotel where I am now hanging with the magical L’il Bub and dad Mike. As special as Bub is, and she is off the charts special, her guardian/dad Mike Bridavsky is one of the most genuine people you will meet, As a team they are perfection and he and Bub are connected in a way that would make any cat lover jealous, but you just can’t do anything but admire and love them. Next I am am the official people wrangler for the Mick and Klaus meet and greet. They are there to keep the mission of Oskar The Blind Cat alive. Oskar was scheduled to be at the convention, but sadly passed away suddenly 2 months ago. Mick is an incredible ambassador for blind and special needs cats. This was the first time I had met Mick and Klaus and they are both 2 very cool cats. Mick is so down to earth and such a natural with both humans and cats. He met with groups of 10 at a time and everyone got a chance to chat with Mick and take pictures with Klaus. Klaus takes it all in like this is what he was destined to be doing. At 17 years young he is a gentle soul that enjoys all of the attention along with a good nap. I wrapped up my time at the meet and greets around 4pm with a mix of joy (to be a part) and sadness (that is was over) Thank you Mike, Bub, Mick and Klaus for making this such and exceptional day.
Now as I head back to convention and time is winding down it starts hitting me how lucky I was to be a part of something so special and as tired as I am that I don’t want it to end. We begin breaking down The Brodie Fund booth and as I am packing up all of my goodies from the weekend I am invited to celebrate the weekend with D.J., Jamie, the Catsbury staff and some of the special guests. Although I am exhausted I know I cannot pass this up! We share a large table at Porta, D.J. and Jamie are sharing stories, celebrating and just being the amazing people they are making sure everyone knows how important they all were to the success of this wild, crazy event. Just before I leave Jake, the event’s promotor, makes a heartfelt toast the the very first Catsbury Park Cat Convention. I look around and see Catsbury staff along with Mike, Mick, Hannah, Andrew, Pookie, Shannon, Mike W., D.J. and Jamie all taking it all in and realizing how special this truly was.
At the end of the weekend I find myself sitting in my car with tears in my eyes as I send a final text of gratitude to the 2 very special people, my friends, my extended cat family, D.J. and Jamie, who made this amazing event happen and I look forward to the 2nd annual Catsbury Park Cat Convention.