I found Toffee and Possum practicing a pairs slacking position (the Symmetrical Curl) last night. Pairs slacking has always been our cats' favorite competitive sport. I haven't seen anyone training in a while. It's a fairly nerve-wracking activity and it helps to have a coach. Our cameo Persian Snalbert used to coach Wendy and Possum, and we all miss him... and his catty, Dick-Button-esque demands for perfection.
For those of you who are new here and don't know about Pairs Slacking, here's my standard explanation:
This sport's competitions are high-pressure, breathtaking and emotional — similar to those in [human] figure skating. But here, the nitpicking international judges are looking for unison in lazy posing and an exquisitely lethargic attitude in each lounging couple.
The judging criteria include flopping down in unison, equal mastery of slacking technique, lack of energy, lack of choreography, lack of interpretation, sloppiness of pose, sleepiness of eyes, and graceful foot and tail positions. They get points for achieving all of that.
If you want more background on how pairs slacking has been practiced by my cats, you can browse or look at my sports photos here.Points are deducted for seeming too alert or creative, excessive tail energy or ear movement, twitching, being startled by noise (a big challenge for Wendy), and falling or slipping off the slacking surface. Teams lose major points if there is more than one element in their program, i.e., they change position, or if they appear to have practiced too hard. It's a really tricky sport....
Keep in mind that we live in Massachusetts. Some states require the slacking cat couples to be of mixed gender, beginning with Pre-Junior Level events. Massachusetts was the first state to allow same-sex couples to compete, and more states have been adopting the Massachusetts Rules.
That's a lucky thing for our cats because Wendy gets terribly nervous, even when practicing. She'd probably blow a gasket in actual competition. The boys do much better training with each other.
As you can see, Toffee and Possum are working on a fairly elementary pose and aren't taking themselves too seriously. They both look like they are really asleep and appear to be sunken into the sofa like two little sacks of cement. Their tails have pleasing curves and they look casual and graceful — but not to much. But they have a looonnnnng way to go. Both of them are displaying considerable tension in their right ears. It can take years of practice to master ear control. They also need to work on their pose because they are not identical. Possum is showing too much foot, while Toffee is showing too much front paw.
If Snalbert were still with us, he'd be yelling his head off at them and moving them closer together because they aren't advanced enough in their technique to perform so far apart. At their ages and ability levels, they are still Juniors, although Possum is 5 years old now, and could transition into Intermediate — if he were more committed and put more hours into training.