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What's happening this weekend

Famous and not-so-famous cats will fill NAIT for the year's furriest festival

Cat lovers take in last year's Edmonton International Cat Festival.

Nanc Price Photography / Supplied

Cat lovers take in last year's Edmonton International Cat Festival.

Instagram’s most famous cat will be in Edmonton this weekend.

Nala, a grey five-year-old Siamese and Tabby mix who has nearly three million followers on the social media platform, has flown all the way from Los Angeles to be the guest of honour at the third annual Edmonton International Cat Festival.

“Every year we try to up the celebrity cat game,” said festival founder Linda Hoang.

Nala will be available for photos and meet-and-greets, but she won’t be the only cat on site.

There will be close to 100 felines at this year’s festival, running Saturday at NAIT (11762 106 Street.), including many that are up for adoption.

“We’re encouraging all of our vendors and rescue organizations to bring in lots of cats. Because that’s the biggest feedback we got in previous years – we thought we were offering lots of cats to pet and cuddle and adopt, but they wanted more,” Hoang said.

Other entertainment at Saturday’s festival will include a yoga class that welcomes cats, a space to pet kittens, cat story time courtesy of the Edmonton Public Library, a visit from the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s serval, Kitten TV – which Hoang describes as “kind of like the fire log channel but with cats” – and various cat-related vendors and crafts.

“Basically, anything and everything to do with cats will probably be there,” Hoang said.

The event doubled in attendance from 2014 to 2015, going from 600 to 1,200 people. Hoang hopes to more than double those totals again this year, aiming for 3,000 attendees. All proceeds raised will go to Little Cats Lost, Zoe’s Animal Rescue, and the Edmonton Humane Society.

Last year’s festival raised more than $30,000 for rescue agencies.

But even with all those cats, Hoang said watching bewildered humans is her favourite part.

“For a lot of the people, they are cat people, but the idea of going to a physical cat festival is weird for them. So it’s really fun for me to kind of just stand back and watch as everyone takes it in,” she said.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, and kids 12 and under get in free.



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