Showing your cat can be a great way to get out, meet like minded people and get to learn all about the cat fancy. Anybody can show their cat, all you need to do is register for a show. All cat breeds have a "breed standard", this is a set of guidelines listing the characteristics of the breed such as head, eyes, ears, coat and colour, body, legs and paws, and tail. Cats are judged according to how closely they meet the breed standard.
If you do think that showing is for you, it is best that you attend a few shows before you sign up.
Can only purebreds be shown?
Any cat can be shown, even domestics (moggies) have their own category known as "household pets" (HHP). All household pets must be desexed or spayed. Although as mixed breeds come in a range of shapes and sizes, they are judged on their overall condition, shape, and temperament.
Basic cat show rules:
- Household pets must be desexed, at what age varies from club to club, but it is usually between 4-6 months of age.
- Pregnant and lactating queens can not be shown.
- Kittens must be a minimum of 10-12 weeks of age, this will vary between cat clubs.
- Cats must be in good health and free of parasites.
Cat shows have judges, clerks, and stewards:
The judge is the one who will judge your cat, she is assisted by the steward. It is his job to bring the cat from his cage to the judge's bench. In some countries, there is also a "clerk", who sits at the judge's bench and writes down the notes/results from the judge. In Australia, the judge typically makes these notes, and then a "runner" will take the slips to the "card room" where the results are written onto the cat's cards.
In Australian cat shows, cats are placed into groups depending on the breed:
Group 1 - Birman, Exotic, Persian, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Norwegian Forest Cat, Siberian, Turkish Van.
Group 2 - Balinese, Siamese, Oriental, Peterbald, Foreign White.
Group 3 - Abyssinian, Australian Mist, Bengal, Burmese, Bombay, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, British Shorthair, Ocicat, Russian Blue, Singapura, Somali, Snowshoe, Sphynx, Tonkinese.
Group 4 - Household pets and unregistered or part pedigree cats.
Open or closed shows:
Open shows - In open shows, owners and spectators are allowed to be present as cats are judged.
Closed shows - In closed shows, the judge judges the cat without the owners or spectators present.
How the show is run and judged varies from club to club and country to country, so I will avoid going into the ins and outs as it may not be relevant to your particular area.
Preparing your cat for a cat show:
Preparing your cat for a show should begin way ahead of time. He should be in peak condition and fed a high-quality diet.
His claws should be trimmed.
Some breeders choose to bathe their cats, others prefer a bran bath and yet others will just groom him.
Pack your gear the night before, it will be an early start.
What do you need to bring to the cat show?
- Vaccination certificate, signed by a veterinarian.
- Proof of desexing (if entering HHP).
- Cat cage (if required), some cat shows supply them. Check with your cat club to see if you need to bring your own cage or if they supply them. Some give you the choice.
- Show curtains. Some clubs only allow white curtains, others permit coloured ones. Again, check with the club on their rules.
- Litter tray, cat litter, scoop and plastic bags (to dispose of any feces).
- Grooming supplies.
- Small bed.
- Food and water.
- Cat carrier and blanket for transporting your cat to and from the show.
- Food and drinks for you.
- A small first aid kit with band aids and antiseptic.
- Business cards (if you are a breeder).
- Pen and notepad.
Arriving at the cat show:
When you arrive at the show you will be met by the "entry clerk". They will take down your name and give you a "vetting in" slip, cage number, and your show catalogue (if you ordered one).
You will move to the next table where your cat will be checked over by a veterinarian "vetted in", to make sure he is fit and well for the show.
Once your cat has been vetted, you will take him to the "benching area" where you will set up your cage. Leave your cat in the carrier until the cage has been set up. Place other items you have under the table the bench is on so that you can keep the area around the cage clear.
Cat show etiquette:
Do not open another person's cage unless asked to do so.
Don't stick fingers in the cage.
Do not touch another person's cat unless you are given permission.
Wash hands between touching cats.
Do not talk when the judge is judging.
Some exhibitors will place a sheet or blanket over the front of the cage, this is to give their cat some privacy (usually with shy cats). If you see the cage has been covered, leave it alone. Don't disturb the cat.
If you hear "cat out", stand still. That means a cat has escaped his cage or the judging bench.
Do not walk behind the judging table when cats are being judged.
Do not speak to the judge when she is judging, unless she specifically asks you a question.
Do not question the judge's decision.