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Inside meowfest, Vancouver's First Cat Festival

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On July 29th, what started as a scribble on a whiteboard at a meowbox team meeting finally came to fruition as meowfest: Vancouver’s first festival dedicated to all things feline.

It was surreal to watch our slightly outrageous idea to help shelter cats unfold into a sold-out event with over two thousand visitors, an eclectic array of vendors from all over North America, over $10,000 raised toward animal charities, a line-up of internet cat celebrities, and even a cover story in the Vancouver Sun. Even now that the event is over, we’re still pinching ourselves.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Ticketholders began lining up outside the Roundhouse in Yaletown as early as nine a.m., forfeiting Sunday brunch for a first glimpse of the event. It was the hottest day of the summer yet, and the community centre’s air conditioning was a bonus welcome for attendees, in addition to the complimentary swag bags they received upon entry.

Hannah Shaw, best known by cat lovers as Kitten Lady (@kittenxlady), kickstarted the day with a sold-out kitten rescue workshop, in which she shared kitten care tips and stories about her past fosters. Fans later had the chance to snag a photo and autographs from Hannah and her partner, pet photographer Andrew Marttila (@iamthecatphotographer), at their meet-and-greet. Andrew hosted a pet photography workshop and spent a part of the day signing copies of his newest book, Cats on Catnip, at his merch table.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Other special events included meet-and-greets with Pudge (@pudgethecat), Nala Cat (@nala_cat), Luna Rose (@hellolunarose) and local star BenBen (@benbencatcat), as well as a seminar on special needs pets hosted by Klaus of @oskarandklaus and his owner, Mick. In the afternoon, Eli Omidi, founder of Cats of Instagram (@catsofinstagram), hosted an intimate panel with the celebrity cat owners, allowing audience members to ask candid questions about each cat’s quirkiest habits, how to build their own cat’s Instagram account, and every other topic across the board.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Some of the whiskered headliners made fleeting appearances in the exhibition hall, giving guests a bonus opportunity to sneak in a photo or even a quick pet. Between napping in the Green Room and signing pawtographs at his meet-and-greet, BenBen was spotted at his merch table, acting cool as a cucumber.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

The celebrity cats weren’t the only felines on-site. Guests could also visit adoptable kittens and cats from the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) and New Westminster Animal Services. Thirteen lucky kitties went home with their forever families that same day.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Vendors offered everything from cat-themed merchandise and cat furniture to pet care services and resources on animal welfare issues. Other than shopping, entertainment included face-painting by the Doodle Girls (@doodlefacepaint), temporary tattoos by INK Vancouver (@inkvancouver), photo ops and a silent auction featuring goodies generously donated by local businesses. All proceeds from the auction were donated to local animal shelters and rescues.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

In between activities, guests could bask in the sunshine in Turntable Plaza and enjoy a bite from Say Hello Sweets (@sayhellosweets), Bandidas Taqueria (@bandidastaqueria), Reel Mac and Cheese (@reelmacandcheese), Rolling Cashew (@rollingcashew) and Rain Bake Shop (@rainbakeshop).

Though the event was busiest in the early afternoon, the bustling energy and happy vibes persisted into the evening, when the final workshop of the day wrapped up and vendors began packing up their booths.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

As an ecommerce company, we spend a lot of time behind computer screens. It was inspiring to get together cat lovers of all walks of life to raise money for charity, bond over our experiences as cat parents and fosterers, and learn how to make a significant impact in our communities—while having a ton of fun.

Photo by Lee Alexander (@leetravisalexander)

Another huge thank mew to our vendors: R2P Pet, BCSPCA, My Cat is People, Nala Cat, Oh My Cat, Kitten Lady, Kitty Snatch, the Cat Photographer, Pudge, Petcurean, Oskar & Klaus, Tessaramics & Tessa Lee Designs, Catman of West Oakland, Apollo Peak, Catit, Meowingtons, FirstMate Pet Foods, Pussweek, Licki Brush, The Paw Project, Cattitude, Catfé, Bosley’s by Pet Valu, The Purrfect Accessory, Red Dog Blue Kat, Goood Pet Collars, TEDDY BOB, NHV Natural Pet Products, Catbirdseat, Blim, Considerate Cat Tarot, Natural Cat Toy, Kizuna, Wise Whiskers, Calm Cat Co., Kitty Karma Books, World’s Best Cat Litter, Tristan’s Art Desk, Cats Only Animal Hospital, Bandidas Taqueria, Rain Bake Shop, Say Hello Sweets, Reel Mac and Cheese, Rolling Cashew, the Doodle Girls, INK Vancouver, Langley Animal Protection Society, New Westminster Animal Services, the Animal Defense & AV Society of BC, Ten Cats, Felted Friends, Katsville Kats, More than Tuna, Furry Friends Pet Photography, Salon Kitty, Temptations, Alley Cats Country Inn, ÖkoCat, The Empurrium, Caledon Farms.

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