Pet Tips

Cat Shows – Pet tip 218

The vast majority of cat owners get cats simply because they like cats and feel that they make great pets. It’s hard to disagree with that; cats are cute, cuddly, and fairly independent. Some cat owners however, are in such awe when it comes to the grace and beauty of their cat that they want to show their cat at a cat show.

Cat shows have been around for about four hundred years with the first cat show starting in 1598 at an English fair. Cat shows really started to take off though in the late 1800’s when large cat shows made a splash in major international cities like London England and New York City in the United States.

Cat shows are basically competitions where purebred cats are judged against a written breed standard which is supposed to represent the ‘perfect’ cat for that breed. The cat that is closest to the breed standard wins. The cat is judged on elements like coat colour and texture, eye colour and shape, ear type and shape, body shape etc. Points are deducted for any variation in the judged cat in relation to the breed standard. If cat owners want their cats to compete in competitions like this, they will need to provide proof of the cat’s pedigree. This would have been given to the cat owner if the cat was obtained from a professional and reputable breeder. Many competitions are also open to mixed breeds or regular ‘household cats’. In this class, since there is no breed standard, cats are usually judged on uniqueness, markings, and friendly behaviour.

If you do want to show your purebred or mixed breed cat at competitions, it’s best to prepare your cat for such activities during kitten-hood or the environment of a cat show may well stress out your cat. Such preparation should include getting your kitten used to car travel, crowds, being handled by strangers etc. This should be a fun activity for both cats and cat owners. If it’s not fun for the cat, there’s no point in bringing your cat to these shows.

In terms of prizes, it’s best not to think about them. Most times the prizes at these shows are honourary. You’ll likely get a ribbon and a certificate if your cat wins in its class. You should also know that there are normally entrance fees so showing your cat is normally not lucrative. If you are a professional breeder and your cat wins, then you can charge a premium for the offspring. Aside from that showing your cat should simply be thought of as a fun activity where cats and cat owners can get together for a good time. If you decide that showing your cat might be for you, contact the Cat Fanciers’ Association for more details. They are the largest organization that deals with cat shows in North America.

One Response to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Mike says:

    Here’s my tip for showing cats – leave the cats out of it. It’s not fun for them, it’s not kind and not natural for cats to be gawked and pawed over by the public at large, or hauled in and out of cages by stewards and judges 5 times a day, lifted up in the air, stretched, whirled around while the judge shows off for the public’s enjoyment, and have their mouths pried open while the judge looks for alignment of the bite. Or turned upside down and shaken (if they are Persian) in order to “float the coat”. There are some wonderful little expressions for the unkind things people do to animals.

    Cats generally are benched (put in their show cages) around 7am and some shows only end late in the afternoon. Some are “double shows” (twice the fun for everyone, except the cats) and only end late into the night. Then the cats have to be transported back home again – and many show people campaign all over the country, or shows can extend over whole weekends, so the travel can be significant. Anybody like to be shut in a cage for 12-15 hours a day, to see how it feels?

    And when one comes to the realisation that winning at cat shows has more to do with “whether you’ve paid your dues”, who you’re connected with, what role you are playing on club committees, which judge you are selling your cats to, or getting them from, who you are wining and dining the night before the show – or providing accommodation for (I could go on and on – chapter and verse) – you then realise that the cat doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it. This is borne out by the fact that a cat can do well one week (or day) and poorly the next – and that’s sometimes in front of the selfsame judges. This is called “giving everyone a turn” – a pat on the head so you continue to support shows, by paying entry fees, breed fees, registration fees, club renewal fees etc.

    So here’s a solution – leave the cats at home, and the catshow fraternity can vote amongst each other for the biggest “cat” of the day. And leave the four legged cats to enjoy their 5 rights of all sentient beings – one of which is to be able to express their natural behaviour – which they cannot do being kept in breed runs, carry cages, show cages et al.

    A great quote from Jonathan Balcombe : “It is time our hearts caught up with our knowledge. Grounded in science and driven by ethics, we need a less selfish world-view that grants animals respect and consideration.”

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