Interview with CatConLA Founder, Susan Michals
Recently Connie Wilson, publisher of Modern Cat, sat down with the founder of CatConLA, Susan Michals, to discuss the second year of the blockbuster cat-centric event and everything kitty. Here's what we learned.
MC: How and why did you conceive of the idea of CatConLA?
SM: CatConLA was borne out of my first cat endeavor, Cat Art Show LA which debuted in January of 2014. Nearly 5,000 people came to the show during the 4 day run. We had over 100 works of art from some of the biggest artists in the world, including Shepard Fairey, Gary Baseman and Tracey Emin. A lot of super chic, hip cat lovers were there who debunked the image of the typical cat person. I realized that I had to do something broader to showcase that – and out of that came CatConLA.
MC: What’s your background and how does it lend itself to creating a successful CatConLA event?
SM: My background is as a journalist, primarily. I cover celebrity, art, pop culture and lifestyle for outlets that range from The Wall Street Journal to Catster. It was through my writings on art that Cat Art Show LA was created – I reached out to the artists I’d met over the years and asked them to participate. I had 40 artists involved in less than two weeks. For CatConLA, I continued to just reach out and see who might be interested in a convention that changed the perception of the cat person and more importantly, debunked the cat lady myth and so far, I’ve been lucky – just about everyone I reached out to has said ‘yes, I’m in!’
MC: What made you decide on LA as the venue?
SM: I’ve lived in LA for 13 years and know the landscape of the city. As you can imagine, trying to find a venue in any city is difficult, and it’s important to know the best places where something like this would work. Finding a 90,000 square foot space that fulfills all of your requirements is not easy, and requires a lot of site visits. If I lived somewhere else, that might prove difficult!
MC: Do you have a cat(s)?
SM: I have had many cats in my life over the years, with names like Le Strange, Puff, Tom, Dick and Harry... but right now I have one cat named Miss Kitty Pretty Girl. I got her from a shelter in 2005 and she’s a Maine Coon cutie. But I also have a dog, Olive. She is also 10 and a Chihuahua. I’ve only had her for about three years, so you can guess who the boss of the household is! I’ve always been a cat person, but I love Olive just as much as Miss K.
MC: How has the event changed for it’s second year?
SM: It’s bigger, better, and BUBBIER. This year we have added 30,000 additional square feet, another 70 vendors (bringing us to 170), plus some amazing activations, like, Animal Planet’s Escape Room, Colorwear’s Kitty Coloring Collective, PurinaONE’s Whole Body Health Hotel (which takes place offsite at the Ace Hotel) and CatVideoFest (at night and offsite at the Theater at the Ace) run by Will Braden. BUB is participating in not one, not two, but three events this year - meet and greets, her seminar, Lil BUB’s Big SHOW, plus she’s introducing CatVideoFest and taking questions with comedian Andy Milonakis.
MC: Were you surprised at the level of cat love we saw at CatConLA last year?
SM: Not at all. That’s why I created CatCon - for those of us to commune together in our love of kitties. It was veritable feline love fest of the best kind. IMHO.
MC: Will there be cats available for adoption this year?
SM: The adoption village - dubbed The Clowder Lounge by our presenting sponsors, Hill’s and Petco - will house over 100 cats and kittens this year, available for adoption. We even have little meet and greet areas for you to check in and commune with what will hopefully be your new furry best friend.
MC: Can you tell us a bit about this year’s lineup of presenters?
SM: We have an incredible line up! We have Julie Newmar the original Catwoman from the Batman series of the 60’s doing a meet and greet first off. Then we have BuzzFeed and Cats of Instagram discussing the difference between cute and internet sensation, and Paul Koudounaris, who spoke at Cat Art Show in March, talking about heroic cats in history. Then Marilyn Kreiger, an animal behaviorist will prove that yes, you can actually train your cat. BUB is back - she’s our finale, of course - with an aMEOWZing show planned and a very very special surprise guest.
MC: What celebrity cat are you most excited to meet this year?
SM: We have three celebrity cats and I'm excited to hang with BUB and Pudge again, and to meet Nala, whom I have been a fan of for a very long time. It will be (in my mind) a kitty cuddle party like no other!
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