Frisky business

You never know how much you want something until it’s suddenly within reach. Before the Sacramento River Cats’ #Caturday promotion, I had no desire to emblazon my pet cats’ faces on the Jumbotron at Raley Field. But when the River Cats solicited photos of local cats for big-screen fame during last Saturday’s game, I just had to see my kittehs up in lights.

My boyfriend and I plotted for days about how to submit our cats' photos. Day before? Day of? During the game? On Twitter? On Facebook? Both? When it comes to house-cat promotion, how much is too much?

We decided on a game-day strategy, tweeting a photo of each of our three cats to @RiverCats hours before the first pitch. Peanut's photo was starred as a favorite by the team's account. Kiki's was immediately retweeted. Awesome! We posted a photo of our third cat, Pinto, and waited. No response.

We studied Pinto critically as he batted a paper ball across our kitchen floor. Was there something unappealing about him we hadn't noticed before? As a follow-up, we tweeted an old photo of Pinto hopped up on catnip with the caption, “Pinto's not old enough for Raley Field's Beer Garden, so he's settled for catnip before the game. #caturday @RiverCats.”

A Facebook friend immediately called us out. “Pinto the cat. Unwilling media whore. Shame on you.”

It occurred to us we might be taking this #Caturday thing too seriously. I put on my cat-ear headband, and we drove out to the ballpark.

The game program featured Grumpy Cat and Business Cat on the cover, but there were hardly any signs of cat love among the crowd. Actually, there wasn't much of a crowd. Opening night was the day before, and the River Cats' Nate Freiman had hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to defeat the Salt Lake Bees 7-6. Was it too much to expect fans to come out again for #Caturday?

The loyal fans that did show bravely weathered the chill of an unrelenting Delta breeze. In a few months, those breezes will be welcome relief from the heat, but on this night, many huddled under blankets with their sweatshirt hoods up.

Nobody lined up for a Merlino’s Freeze, but things were livelier in the beer garden, where tipsy fans shouted encouragement. The River Cats pulled ahead of the Bees in the sixth inning and sustained that 5-4 lead until the fireworks show finale.

Cat photos flashed on the big screen between innings, but my pets' were never among them. I let go of hopes for feline fame and celebrated a River Cats victory with the bright blooms of fireworks bursting between the Ziggurat Building and the Tower Bridge.

If the River Cats continue the #Caturday tradition next year, cat lovers definitely need to step it up. The annual Bark in the Ballpark promotion, held this year on May 28, features dog-and-human ticket packages and an on-field dog parade—we can't let felines fall out of favor with America's pastime. I'll start training my cats to march in parade formation, just in case.