MATRADE Exhibition Convention Centre (MECC)
Beginning of October: 11am – 9pm
Bust out your allergy meds and flex your cat-petting hand! The Ekspo Kucing (Cat Expo) is the biggest cat expo in Malaysia and pounces on the city annually for three days at the beginning of October.
Venue & Parking
The expo has always taken place at the MATRADE Exhibition Convention Centre (MECC). It’s that building that looks like a beautiful sleek version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Inside, however, it’s just a huge, metallic, fluorescent-lit place typical of convention centres. There is a big parking lot, but it fills up quickly. However, I’ve noticed that people just park on the side and sidewalk of Jalan Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah.
Admission is RM5 but children under 12, the disabled and elderly get in for free. There are two booths opposite each other at the entrance that you can buy tickets from, so check which one has the shorter queue. After paying you’ll receive a voucher book, lucky draw form and a wristband.
Don’t think that you’re being so clever by paying once and using the same wristband to attend the expo all weekend. The expo uses different coloured wristbands each day, and security is quite vigilant in checking them. Honestly, if you have an issue with giving up RM5, you should do something better with your time other than going to a cat expo… like getting a second job?
At The Expo
Even owning one cat can infuse the entire house with cat pee aromatherapy. You would think the smell would be horrendous with all of those cats under one roof, but the cats here are all severely pampered with top quality litter and food. There’s strict rules in place that the poops have to be scooped before they’ve barely left the cat’s butt.
You’ll get a scent produced by all the other animals, especially the rabbits and roosters, but the vast space dilutes the smell. You’ll notice it when you get close to a pen with these animals, but it will disappear once you move away.
Goods For Sale
Ideally, you own a cat, and if that’s the case, there will be lots of things that you will be tempted to buy that may not be available at your local grocer or pet shop. You will be bombarded with toys, flea sprays, odourless litter, and premium cat food for sale at the booths… over a hundred of them. The voucher book you received is packed with special discounts and even free samples that you can redeem at specific booths. There will also be lucky draws for prizes of pet products, so fill out your form and drop it off early. Even if you’re just a vicarious cat lover, you can still marvel at the 500 different species that will be present.
Some people take cat ownership to the next level. The Expo Kucing is also host to the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) International Cat Competition, the largest one to be held. This event takes up a good portion of both halls. To contestants, it’s serious business, but to the rest of us, it’s rows of picturesque felines with purrfect grooming. The real fun for us normal people is walking through the aisles of cats and picking out which is the cutest and the one you’d want to take home.
While this is a cat expo, the opportunities for you to fully pet a cat are small. The majority of the cats that are here are show cats waiting to be judged. They likely cost more than your miserable existence and most owners are not going to risk any injury, stress or whatever plebian germs you have on your hands by letting you get too close to the animal.
The cats that are competing now have a plastic sheeting over their cage so you can’t poke your fingers at them. Every single one will likely not react to any kissy noises you make, or taps on their cage. The cats look like they want nothing more than to go home and ignore the universe until then.
Fear not, as there will be adoption booths where you can get a little closer to the cats without fear of retribution. The adoption cats will definitely not have any barriers on their cage and most times will be more lively.
More Than Just Cats
The Ekspo Kucing is much more than just cats. The slightly sadistic housepets are the only ones being judged in an international competition, but this giant convention space is rounded out with almost every other animal you begged your parents for when you were younger: hamsters, fish, lizards, maybe even a python! Not a single dog in sight though. The natural enemy of the cat has no place here. For the smaller things like fish and lizards, you can even buy one here.
The rules for touching the other animals on display at the Kuala Lumpur cat expo are much more relaxed. Hedgehog tanks will have the tops open. If there are budgies, you can ask a handler to place one on your finger. Lizard and gecko breeders seem happy to let you hold one.
Different years will have a different assortment of random animals.
There will be a petting zoo (sometimes two) that may have goats, chickens, goose and rabbits. You can stay on the periphery and pet whatever is closest, but there is also the option to pay a bit of money (RM5 or less) to enter the pen. This alpaca seems to be a mainstay of the Ekspo Kucing petting zoo, so give this guy a nice pat when you see him.
Constantly “aww”-ing over cute balls of mammalia is hungry work. The felines get healthy, fur-improving, organic tuna mornay in gravy, but us humans have to get our sustenance from food trucks. There’s a parallel to be noted here at how shitty we treat our own bodies but absolutely spoil our pets.
Food trucks will be set up in the space between the two entrances to feed peckish visitors. There’s only so much space in this area, so there aren’t many options – I think there is only eight trucks total. The food on offer won’t exactly give you a shiny coat (except for on your tongue): kebabs, fried chicken, burgers, pasta, takoyaki, a TeaLive and a drink truck.
There are no tables in this cramped space, so you’ll have to eat your food while standing around or sitting on the steps to the building. I would suggest that you eat at the nearby Publika Mall, but Malaysians are always grazing, so you’d probably still end up queuing at a truck here.
In the east wing of the convention centre, there is the Trader’s Cafe that serves mostly Malaysian dishes. There is a small number of seating here, but you’ll need to watch for vacancies like a hawk and fight for a spot. You’ll definitely get a better price for food here over the food trucks if you’re not picky about what you want to eat.
Not far from this is a small convenience store. It may be hidden behind some flashy booths so look carefully. If you’re going to end up standing and eating anyway, you can pick up some crisps or a canned drink and walk around the expo.
There were two washrooms in the east wing of the building (near the north and south ends) and one more on the west. The look of them match the venue: they’re very utilitarian and unornamented. They are not that big to accommodate the hundreds of visitors on a given day (only about 6-8 stalls), so you may have to wait. There were sitting-style toilets with one squatter at the end. All the stalls, including the squatter, had toilet paper in the stall.
The washroom may only have one soap dispenser for multiple sinks. It should be on the wall next to the mirror. There’s paper towel to dry up and also a hand dryer. You should make a point to visit frequently to wash your hands if you’re going to be touching a lot of strange animals all day.
Mark the Ekspo Kucing on your calendars. It will always run for a weekend in October, from Friday to the end of Sunday, 11am to 9pm. The Cat Expo is a fun place for couples or the entire family. This is the time to be whimsical and bold with your love of cats, so definitely remember to wear any cat shirts or cat ears you may have!