Friday, October 4 – Sunday, October 6, 2019
MATRADE Exhibition and Convention Centre
The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats, and for three days, the 15,000 visitors at the Ekspo Kucing 2019 in Kuala Lumpur did too.
It was crowded as usual on a Saturday afternoon. Children had whiskers painted on their faces and visitors came decked out in their cat t-shirts, with some cute girls wearing cat ears (I was talked out of wearing my own cat shirt as it was “too on the nose” according to Mark). As we were shuffling toward the expo doors, I noticed that this year had a lot more men in military uniforms doing security. All of their training has led to this… protecting the cats.
We entered through the west entrance first. As expected, it was rows and rows of cat food and litter brands that were not relevant to us as non-cat owners. In the corner of the west hall, however, there was a mixed rabbit and bird petting zoo. It was a big ring-shaped space with a variety of rabbits, roosters, what looked like pigeons and a goose.
On the periphery of this were more rabbits and, oddly, a lot of roosters in cages that were cock-a-doodle-dooing very noisily. Roosters are mildly interesting, I guess, but I don’t think there needed to be that many on display. I’m thinking the animals in this petting zoo operate in “shifts” and eventually the ones in the cages will be switched out for the free-range ones. Kind of like at the end of Toy Story 3 where the toys take turns dealing with the children because they are so awful and handle them so poorly.
Adoption drives existed in both halls with cats of differing friendliness. Some slept, most sat out of reach, and there would be that one cat that would actually seem alive and nuzzle your finger. These cats at the adoption drives are the only ones you can touch – aside from owners with their cat that are cool with you touching theirs – so that slight contact is all you’re getting.
Similarly, both halls had a cat competition sponsored by two different companies. The cats here are nice to look at, but a plastic sheet was put up so people can’t stick their fingers in. The cats here all seemed bored and over it, not responding to any coos or taps on their cage.
After walking around thinking that the geckos were a no-show this year, I saw they were crammed in a corner, whereas last year they got a prime space in the middle of the expo hall. It’s the same breeder: The Fabulous Geckos. An entire table of geckos in plastic tubs were laid out, with a couple of them free for handling.
They shared the area with lizards, neon fish, a breeder selling hedgehogs and terrified hairless rats, and this crazy huge shiny beetle. It was a space that was way too small for all of these tables. Kids and their parents constantly knocked into me and it was just unpleasant to be in… especially if you’re trying to delicately hold a gecko. If there were just a couple less cat food booths, all of these unconventional breeders could’ve spread out and gotten the attention they deserve.
This year’s event was billed as “bigger and better” but honestly, it was exactly the same as last year. In fact, a few things were missing this year. Where were the budgies and lovebirds? And where was my boy, the python, that you could pet? The derpy alpaca was here again just as I predicted he would be. Alpaca? Check. Rooster pen? Check. Rabbits? Check. Same, same, same.
I wasn’t surprised by anything during the Ekspo Kucing this past Saturday, with the exception of a sugar glider booth. Sugar gliders are small possums with webbed wings and a tendency to jump and “fly” from place to place. The owners of this booth were putting on sugar glider competitions to see which could “glide” the furthest. You could also have your turn in holding a sugar glider, with the handlers having several to pass around. I had a go at a particularly mischievous beige coloured one, who jumped onto the face of a girl next to me! So, that was the big excitement of the day. It seems like these sugar glider people were the only ones making any effort with their booth.
Even the food truck variety was the same. This drink truck was definitely here last year since I distinctly remember getting a pandan coconut shake (it was good). Same with TeaLive, in their exact same spot at the end. There were still no tables or seating set up out here, so it was a crowded mess of visitors standing around eating, waiting for food or just trying to get through.
We walked away from Ekspo Kucing 2019 a bit disappointed. Not upset that we came at all, but more that there was nothing new. Almost everything we saw garnered a “yup, there’s that again” reaction. Unless something changes in the coming years, once you’ve been to one of these cat expos, you won’t need to come again for a while.
Also, for a cat expo, there’s very little cat interaction. Actually, the cats are the one thing you can’t touch. You can hold an iguana, pick up a chicken, feed an alpaca, and stroke a rabbit, but with the cats, you’re expected to keep your hands off. Huh? This is a cat expo and yet the organizers still haven’t thought of any ways to get visitors to interact with the animal they are celebrating. I can go to a cat cafe for not much more money and experience a cat overload.
I don’t think we will attend the Ekspo Kucing next year unless one of two things happen: we actually adopt a cat by then, or the event poster says: “We have an actual jaguar this year. Yes, serious, no bullshit, lah.”