POP Cats festival in Houston brings out four-legged felines


Crowds of Houston’s friendliest felines and their two-legged companions flocked to POP Cats over the weekend, an interactive event that made its Bayou City debut.

Cats of all kinds – calico cats, sleepy cats, cats in hats – participated in the two-day event cats, art and promoting pet adoption at Silver Street Studios in Houston’s First Ward.

Wearing an oversized gold chain necklace, pink John Lennon sunglasses and gray denim jacket, Dragon, a hairless Sphynx cat, perched on a stroller, where onlookers snapped photos, attempting to capture his unique cattitude.

“Everybody thinks Sphynx’s originated in Egypt and they don’t – they come from Toronto,” said Dragon’s owner, Star Smith, who was drawn to the breed because of how affectionate they are and first came across them when a friend reached out about finding A cat compatible with her son’s allergies.

Smith said Dragon, 7, is a retired stud and emotional support animal, who usually spends his days “underneath the covers” next to two heater fans at their home in Tomball, where he’s a regular attendee of the Tomball German Festival.

Cousins ​​Elizabeth Nguyen, left, and Erika Nguyen play with Koala the cat at POP Cats Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Silver Street Studio in Houston. The group of cousins ​​brought three cats to the festival.

Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photographer

Other cat parents carried their fur babies in backpacks and carriers as they wandered around the Houston event, which is what event creator Edgar Flores believes makes this event unique.

“Attendees can bring their own cat,” Flores said.

He started POP Cats in Miami in 2017 to celebrate cats and cat welfare and make cats more approachable for people who might be interested in adopting.

Flores said instead of cat conventions, which have a strong emphasis on products and shopping, POP Cats focuses on the experience of attendees.

“We have cat playgrounds, something that you couldn’t see before,” Flores said.

These “playgrounds” are an enclosed netted space where people and adopted cats can mingle and play “and kind of have a speed date” to check their compatibility, Flores said.

Adoptable kittens from SAVE Rescue Coalition are resting at POP Cats Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Silver Street Studio in Houston.

Adoptable kittens from SAVE Rescue Coalition are resting at POP Cats Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Silver Street Studio in Houston.

Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photographer

Several greater Houston animal shelters were at the event and found homes for some of the adoptable cats they brought for the play areas, which brought lines of children – and adults – eager for some play time or a chance to take some cat selfies.

A young couple from Beaumont came to POP Cats to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary, along with their fluffy, black cat Tobi, who they rescued several months ago.

“He’s not a purebred cat but we’ve had him since he was four weeks old. He was an orphan,” said Rachel Moore, whose grandmother first encouraged her to become a cat owner.

She finally adopted one when she got an apartment and then things “spiraled” she said when she would encounter other cats in need of a home.

“My family has made fun of me for being a crazy cat lady ever since I got my first cat, and I have four, so I guess they’re partially correct,” she said. They started buying her cat-themed presents, so now she’s fully leaning in to it and even has cat-themed dish towels and spoon rests.

Tobi gets suggly in his new bed that his owners just purchased for him at POP Cats Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Silver Street Studio in Houston.  Rachel and Jarett Moore, of Beaumont, celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary.

Tobi gets suggly in his new bed that his owners just purchased for him at POP Cats Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Silver Street Studio in Houston. Rachel and Jarett Moore, of Beaumont, celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary.

Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photographer

“Everything is cats,” Moore said, who picked up a handcrafted cat bed for Tobi at the event.

Several local and national vendors there sold unique handcrafted art, attire and everything in between – gothic cat collars with ties for emo cats and even portraits of cats as iconic pop culture characters, like a cat Sailor Moon or feline Harry Potter.

For a gentlemanly cat, Danita Hickerson from Conroe, was selling her 22-year-old daughter’s handmade cat bow ties. The local business, the Dragon’s Cauldron, took off during the pandemic, when her daughter started making masks. Since then the business has evolved into creating all kinds of accessories for two and four-legged beings.

“She was able to turn this into a full-time job,” Hickerson said, who added that their family cat, Captain Bones, loves to wear the bowties.

The local animal shelters attending POP Cats included BARC, Rescued Pets Movement, SAVE Rescue Coalition (Santa Fe) and Friends for Life, a no-kill shelter that is reopening its doors to the public on July 1st.

Friends for Life offers cat (and dog) adoption and specializes in its free behavior therapy consultations that teach pet owners how to train their animals.

Turtle the cat gets some treat from Elizabeth Nguyen, his owner's cousin, at POP Cats Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Silver Street Studio in Houston.  The group of cousins ​​brought three cats to the festival.

Turtle the cat gets some treat from Elizabeth Nguyen, his owner’s cousin, at POP Cats Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Silver Street Studio in Houston. The group of cousins ​​brought three cats to the festival.

Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photographer

“One of the most common (behavioral) struggles that I think most cat owners can appreciate is nail trims,” said volunteer Crystal Bye, “We do nail trim training with our cats.”

Friends for Life also provides personality tests to match cats with the right owner.

“We’re all about trying to make sure cats stay in a home that is a good fit,” Bye said.

elizabeth.trovall@chron.com

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