Square Paws was a vendor once more this year at CatConLA, the self-described Comic-con for cat people. Click the video below for a visual recap of some of our favorite moments and items we saw at the show. (Mind you, we were mostly tending to our own booth and couldn’t capture everything at the show, but this video gives you a flavor of the event.)

This was CatConLA’s sophomore year, and, after the runaway success of the first year, the organizers thought to expand the event to include a second floor with many more vendors than the first year. At the first CatConLA some vendors reported selling out of product by day one, which left many attendees frustrated and left vendors sad that they’d underestimated the show’s potential. Thus, adding more vendors seemed like a logical response to a clear demand.

Unfortunately, this year’s event suffered from growing pains, especially on Saturday, the first of the two-day event. Attendees we met complained of the long wait to get in, followed by the LA Fire Marshall preventing people from entering due to “over-occupancy.” As it turns out, many attendees had no inkling that the event was on two floors, so, those of us on the upper floor spent much of Saturday morning wondering where the people were.

“And there was something for everyone at the show...”

Mario Arbore

n addition, there were air conditioning problems and WiFi connectivity issues happening at the venue, neither of which are good for business on a hot weekend. We also heard that folks who went out for a bite to eat at the food trucks just outside weren’t allowed back in without waiting on the front entry line.

For many of the vendors, present company included, CatConLA 2016 was a big disappointment in terms of sales. Maybe it was the fact that there were so many vendors this year that the competition was too much. Perhaps it was that attendees felt hard-pressed to purchase anything when they had scheduled lectures and/or meet-and-greets to get to after waiting on line so long to get in.

Regardless, it left many of us feeling upset about the show.

That aside, there were so many fantastic things to see! It was wonderful to be a part of so much amazing creativity under one roof! I mean, here were hundreds of artists, artisans, makers, and entrepreneurs promoting our wares, all inspired by cats! And I saw very little that didn’t have SOME intriguing or creative component to it. I’d read last year that CatConLA tapped into the need to connect with other cat people in the same way that dog people have dog runs in the neighborhood park, and that hits it on the head. We cat people (my opinion here) tend to be more introverted, quiet and shy. And while we can bask in that solitude, it can be a really great thing to connect with others who can mutually understand our fascination with cats as pets. Cats have a way of drawing us in to their world, very delicately but very powerfully, and it was truly a great place to bond with others who understand that human-to-feline relationship.

And there was something for everyone at the show: from the cutesy, soft, cuddly items (think seeing and getting to pet Lil Bub) to the portrayal of cats in perverse, human-like scenarios (cats wearing bowties? Cats as outlaws?); from the uber-practical (robotic litter chambers that do your dirty-work) to the super-fantastic (look up “Kitty Decides”); from messages of awareness about domestic abuse and de-clawing to “caticures” and “caticatures.” I regret not being able to meet the wonderful Julie Newmar or hear her talk, but it was one of those rare and joyful things that would only be found at CatConLA.

Adjacent to our booth were Tara and Brian O’Mara of PDX Pet Design, the people behind the “Licki” brush, a big silicone tongue you put in your mouth in order to fake-groom your kitty the feline way. And, as weird as most average people will think a creation like this, even the most “normal” of us cat people can look at the thing through our deepest disdain and say to ourselves, “Well, ya know, I can kinda see how this is a great thing for my cat, so…”

And it’s in that place where we human beings let go of conventional reason and realize that we want anything and everything that brings us closer to our kitties. Therein lies the genius of CatConLA.

So, I want to say to all the crazy cat people out there, whether you’re a maker of cat-things or just love to surround yourself with cats, stay weird. Our cats DO appreciate us as much as we do them. Meow for now, Mario
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