Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cat Shows Are Not Just for Pedigreed Felines!

By Julia Williams

I’ve only been to a handful of cat shows, but I found them interesting and a lot of fun. It never occurred to me to inquire about showing my own cats, for two reasons. First, I don’t have a purebred cat. More importantly, my cats are rather shy with strangers and would either try to run away from the judges or scratch them to bits. I can’t change their temperaments, but I recently learned that nearly every cat show has a Household Pet class. So owners of outgoing felines who are either non-purebred or without papers, can “prettify” them and let them strut their stuff at a cat show. Who knows, your beloved garden-variety housecat might even take home a title!

The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), The International Cat Association (TICA) and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) are the main cat registries and hosts for cat shows. Although some of the rules and eligibility requirements vary between these organizations, all three have a Household Pet category for their cat shows.

The Household Pet cats compete in one group, without regard to age, sex, coat length or color. Unlike the Pedigree classes, there is no written standard for Household Pets, although most organizations require that cats over 8 months be spayed or neutered. The cats in the Household Pet class are judged instead on their condition, uniqueness, physical beauty, health, and show presence. Judges look for cats who have a pleasing appearance, unusual markings, a sweet disposition and a calm demeanor. However, since “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the judging for this class tends to be more subjective.

Should you show your cat?

Entering your feline friend in a cat show could be fun and rewarding for both of you, but it’s definitely not for every cat. First and foremost, you must decide if your cat’s temperament is suitable to being in the cat show environment. Would they enjoy the experience, or would it frighten them and stress them out? A good “show cat” will have a friendly and unflappable disposition. This is especially important for the Household Pet class, since temperament is one of the main judging criteria.

For shy or nervous cats, being at a show would be more of an ordeal than something they would enjoy. Is your cat outgoing enough to tolerate the crowds, noise and being handled by strangers? A good show cat loves being on display and doesn’t mind being handled by lots of different people. If your cat is relatively friendly and well-adjusted, they might do well in the ring, although there is really no way to tell for certain aside from giving it a try.

Is your cat in good health? To be entered in a show, your cat must be fit and well, with no fleas, ear mites, bare patches of skin, runny eyes or sneezing, and vaccinations must be current.

How do you find a cat show to enter?

Cat shows are held all around the country every weekend. You can see the show listings for CFA here and for TICA, here.

If you see a show near you that you want to attend, contact the person listed for entry forms and information. Be sure to ask if the show you are interested in has a Household Pet division. Entries for cat shows close several weeks before the actual show date to allow time to create the catalog and judges' books, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get your forms in.

Once you’ve decided to take the leap into cat shows, you should start by doing some research. It’s much better to know the rules than to find out you’ve broken them and been disqualified. has a lot of information for beginners interested in showing their cat, whether pedigreed or not. The internet is a good place to do some research, but a far better idea is to go to a cat show as a spectator so you can see first-hand how they work and what’s involved. You can also chat with the other cat owners to get advice. You may even find one who lives near you who would be willing to be your mentor and help you learn the “cat show ropes.”

So you see, your furry friend need not possess a pedigree to become a cat show champion. If you think your feline has the good looks and calm demeanor to take the cat show world by storm, why not have a go at it?

Photos by Krzysiu "Jarzyna" Szymański

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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