The newly founded Cat Tales 4-H club is getting off to a great start thanks to the efforts of leader Dianna Calhoun.
The group held its first meeting Oct. 10. It currently has 10 members ranging in age from 5 to 14. Calhoun’s son, Timmie, is the only boy in the club in a hobby dominated by girls.
Calhoun is an experienced 4-H leader. She participated for 16 years in the organization in King County with older daughters, Stephanie and Amanda, now ages 34 and 29. Ten years ago the family moved to Vaughn. At the time, Cat Nip (in Kitsap County) was the nearest 4-H club. Timmie and 12-year-old daughter, Caitlin, were active in the Cat Nip club for three years.
Caitlin won for second best shorthair cat at the 4-H show at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup this year with her red classic tabby, Trevor. She took fifth place out of 32 competitors in intermediate fitting and showing.
Timmie won seventh for best long-hair cat with his lynx point, Merlin. He took first place in oral reasons and third place in the judging competition for intermediates.
Dianna Calhoun decided to use her prior experience to fill a local niche and start a 4-H club from scratch. Under her guidance, the children take control and run the meeting.
Caitlin has held the positions of vice president and president in Cat Nip, and now she presides over the Cat Tales meetings, fulfilling her latest presidential duties.
Members are taught basic feline care as well as spiffing up their cats for show.
They learn about cleaning ears, eyes and nose; brushing teeth; the proper brush or comb to use for long or short hair; clipping toe nails 1/8 inch from the quick, shining fur with a chamois or nylon stocking. Even the use of safety carriers were discussed and demonstrated.
“Knowledge for proper ownership is most important,” said Kim Hunziger, receptionist at All Creatures Veterinary Clinic in Gorst. This is the first 4-H experience for Hunziger and her daughters, Kendra and Kayla.
Vice president Kayla Hunziger enjoys getting to play with her kitty.
“I like getting to learn how to take better care of my cats and grooming them,” said Alexis Perron, club treasurer.
Following the business meeting, Caitlin Calhoun demonstrated grooming techniques starting out by cleaning her cat’s ears. Her willing subject, Trevor, stood calmly under his owner’s attentive hands, arched his back and rubed his face affectionately against her. She brushed his fur as other members of Cat Tales and their mothers paid close attention.
Other cats peered nervously from inside their carriers. There are no fancy pedigreed cats here. All are common house cats, beloved pets.
A pair of tuxedo-colored black and white shorthair cats lay together in the unfamiliar surroundings. Following the demonstration, each cat was removed from its cage to experience the ins and outs of feline care.
Caitlin and Timmie Calhoun supervised inexperienced cat handlers and showed them the best way to perform each task. Inexperienced cats appeared less than enthusiastic at first, but owners were assured their pets will get used to the attention.
“It’s not just about the showing,” Dianna Calhoun said. “The youth development program teaches leadership roles and develops self-confidence along with care and physiology of the animals. All these cats are household pets. All cats are welcome,” she said.
Club members are looking forward to the coming show season next year, when they will compete in Kitsap County. They are working on designs for a T-shirt for their club.
They need money donations to purchase cages for show. New members ages 5-18 are welcome.
Cat Tales 4-H meets the first and third Thursdays at 7 p.m., in the VFW room at the Key Peninsula Civic Center in Vaughn.
For information, contact Dianna Calhoun at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (253) 884-4182.