Every summer, thousands of cat lovers from all over the country come together for CatCon. The two-day cat convention, held in Southern California, has become the go-to place for cat lovers to attend lectures, try new products and meet cat-loving celebrities (“The Vampire Diaries” star Ian Somerhalder, for example, has attended CatCon for the past two years.). Best of all, the cat convention helps find homes for shelter kitties—a record 159 this year—and connects volunteers with foster programs.
The world’s largest showcase of cat culture, cat-centric merchandise and cat experts is usually a lot of furry fun, but this year it was much more. Surrounded by two and four-legged witnesses, cat lovers Colleen Kennedy and Paul Bentsen got married in a surprise wedding on August 5 in the Pasadena Convention Center—right in the middle of CatCon.
CatCon organizers posted a live video on Facebook of the wedding ceremony, which took place at the end of a CatCon panel discussion about men who love cats. Celebri-cat Lil Bub was a bridesmaid and Mo Show, Portland, Oregon-based cat rapper, was the best man.
We wanted to know more, so we talked to the happy groom about how it all happened.
Tell us about you two.
Currently, Colleen is a veterinary assistant at Banfield Pet Hospital, and I am part-owner of a catering company, catering mostly to offices in the Los Angeles area. Someday I’d like to create a vegan/dairy-free pet treat product.
How did you meet?
Colleen and I met at a bar I worked at in Norwalk, [California]. Her cousin introduced us, and we spent a year getting to know each other before I proposed to her at CatCon [in] 2015.
Why did you pop the question there?
It was at the Modern Cat Magazine booth! I’d spent some time trying to find the perfect place [at the cat convention] and a CatCon cameraman to catch the moment, but at some point, the pressure and nerves got to me. As we wandered up to the Modern Cat booth for a picture opp, I whispered to the attendant to take a video—not a picture—and I popped the question. She said “yes,” by the way!
What was it like to get married at CatCon?
Amazing is all I can say about everyone from CatCon [who were] involved. It was a surprise wedding, so no one from our party could know why they were front row at the “Men and Cats, A Love Story” seminar at CatCon.
We were both extremely nervous for weeks leading up to the day. Both of us have social anxiety, [which is] probably why we love and envy the attitude and swag of cats. So this was a huge leap of faith for us—going on stage in front of hundreds of people and an unknown amount of social media eyes to follow. But, really, in the moment, [Colleen] was all I could focus on, and everyone had made it so easy and exciting for us that all anxiety disappeared at that time.
Tell us about your cats.
When we met, there were six cats between the two of us—five at her home and one at mine. Since she moved in a little over three years ago, there were a couple additions on my side. Now we have three here and five with [Colleen’s] family in Montana. Most are indoor with a couple of outdoor adopted fur-friends. I’m sure [Colleen’s] on a first name basis with at least a dozen more. Really, she is a cat magnet!
They had to sit this one out, but the talented Jason Edward Davis was gracious enough to paint a portrait of our two indoor guys here at our home—Bubba and Buster—so they could be there with us at the ceremony. That’s the picture projected behind us during the ceremony.
Bubba is a fluffy gray tabby, and Buster is an older, wiser, golden brown tabby. Bubs is the newest addition to our family; [we] just celebrated his first birthday this past 4th of July. He spends a lot of time with his two dog sisters, a Pit and a German Shepherd.
This purrfect love story is the cat’s meow! We wish these two lovebirds many years of happiness—and CatCon conventions—together.