The Washington Times-Herald

July 17, 2013

The cat's meow

Animals teaching 4-Hers lessons at Daviess County 4-H Fair

By Lindsay Owens Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Azeria Ackerman carefully watches as her sister, Maura, puts Little Lady, a tiger striped cat, on judge Dr. Dan Hasenour’s examination table Tuesday morning during the 4-H cat show. Hasenour, a veterinarian from Huntingburg, checks Little Lady’s teeth and ears and asks Maura, “Do you know how many hours a cat sleeps?”

Maura takes a second and answers, “They sleep 19 hours. It’s quite awhile.” Hasenour agrees. Little Lady swishes her tail and her ears go back. “She’s getting a little upset,” said Maura. Hasenour asks her how she can tell. “By her tail.”

A few minutes earlier, Azeria, a two-year member of Mini 4-H, had showed the cat to Hasenour in the Mini 4-H portion of the cat show. “ It’s fun to be in 4-H,” Azeria said. “It’s fun to work with a cat,” she said with a wide grin.

After rubbing over the cat’s fur and checking her nails, Hasenour asks Maura a few more questions before telling her she can sit back down.

Hasenour checks off a few things on the judge’s sheet and writes a few comments before calling up Mikaela Ackerman, Azeria and Maura’s sister, and her Siamese cat Chopsticks.

Before the eight-year member of 4-H can utter a word, the judge asks her if Chopsticks howls. “No. Chopsticks is pretty quiet,” she said. Hasenour quickly informs Mikaela and the observers of the event, that he’s not fond of Siamese because they howl and are not people cats. “But this is a nice cat anyway. By the way, do you know why this cat’s eyes are crossed?”

“Because it’s a Siamese,” Mikaela tells him.

Patti Newton holds her 4-month-old kitten Dutchess and strokes its calico fur while waiting on the results of the show. “I love cats. I just really like cats and that’s why I enjoy taking the cat project so much,” said the eight-year 4-Her, her eyes never looking up from the tiny gray and cream ball resting on her chest. “We have several cats at home,” said Newton’s mother. “She definitely loves cats. It’s not a like. It is definitely a love.”

Newton and both Maura and Mikaela were awarded blue ribbons. Azeria was also given a blue ribbon for participation as a Mini 4-Her.

“This was a really hard decision to make,” Hasenour told the girls. “The scores were really close and it is hard to judge a kitten against an adult cat and it’s hard to judge an indoor cat against an outside one.”

Hasenour went on to explain to each of the girls what they did well with in showing their pet and what they could improve upon. In the end, Newton and Dutchess were awarded Reserve Grand Champion and Mikaela and Chopsticks were awarded Grand Champion.

“I like doing the cat show for a lot of reasons,” said Mikaela. “I like to get closer to my animal and I get to participate with something alive, not just a poster or other project I’ve completed.”

All three Ackerman girls can agree on one thing, they all said they enjoy working with their animals. “You can learn so much about your animal in this project,” said Maura.