A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Thursday, April 3, 2014


                                         (Above: Lil Bub)

Attention, fellow feline fanciers: I have news that will be mew-sic to your ears. The premiere of the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival was such a big hit last year, they're going to do it all over again this year. The date: May 10, from 3 to 10 p.m.
Last year's festival drew more than 5,000 people – mostly "internet addicts, families who have cats of their own, and hipsters who think cat videos are ironic," according to spokeswoman Issabella Shields, who says this year's videos are even funnier than last year's.
Among the stars: Grumpy Cat (real name: Tardar Sauce), known for a facial expression that rivals Doc Martin's, and Lil Bub, who is famous for her "perma-kitten" appearance.
Some Internet cats have become such big stars, they have their own agents. One is Dusty the Klepto Kitty, who lives in Alameda. Dusty's larcenous ways earned him a spot on "The Late Show With David Letterman," which flew him and his owner, Jean Chu, back to New York for the program.
"Dusty flew business class," she says. "I flew coach."
The "cativities" start at 3 p.m., featuring live bands singing cat-themed songs; local artists selling hand-crafted cat toys, homemade cat food, pitchers and vases shaped like cats, cat t-shirts and cat ears for you to wear, top hats and bow ties for your cat to wear (good luck with that!) and some of the best gourmet food trucks in Oakland.
Local animal rescue groups and shelters will also be on hand with dozens of adorable cats and kittens that, in many cases, you can adopt on the spot and take home with you.
Then, at sundown, the main show will start, featuring 100 cat videos – culled from more than 10,000 submissions – projected in high definition by a 15,000-lumen projector onto The Great Wall of Oakland, a giant 100-foot-by-100-foot wall on West Grand Avenue between Broadway and Valley Street.
Tickets are $10 per person; $5 for children under 12 and seniors over 65, every penny to be donated to the Oakland-East Bay SPCA.
But there's a way you can avoid paying anything. Just sign up to be a foster parent for one of the participating rescue groups or shelters, and you'll get two free tickets to the festival.
"The entire point of the festival is to sign up 100 foster parents to partner with these shelters," says Shields. "They all get pre-weaned kittens every kitten season, and they have to euthanize them unless people volunteer to foster them until they're ready for spay/neuter surgery and adoption."
To sign up, log on to the festival's website, oaklandcatvidfest.com, go to the "adoptions and fostering" page, and choose the shelter that's either closest to your home or the one you like best.
"Each shelter has its own rules and procedures for becoming a foster parent," says Shields. "Usually, you'll have to go through some training. Some shelters, like the Oakland-East Bay SPCA, will give you all the food and equipment necessary. Others won't."
To get the festival, take BART to the 19th Street station and walk two short blocks to the main entrance at the corner of Broadway and West Grand. Or, if you prefer to drive, there are plenty of parking lots in the area.
See you there!

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