With the Family Pet Show in Manchester (Today is the last chance to enter for a chance to win a Family ticket!) fast approaching we thought it would be a good opportunity to put up some advice from the CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) on what to bear in mind if you do wish to attend this show or a future one with your pet!
Please find their guide below:
Some might ask why to show your non-pedigreed cat – the answer is easy…. We bring our pets because we enjoy them and love being around others with a common interest –CATS! We like the anticipation of the show, preparation and grooming, packing and planning, coordinating to share a lunch with friends, and of course….the possibility of winning! We all love our cats, pedigree or not, and we love to show them off while enjoying comradery of other feline exhibitors. It is a family friendly hobby that allows us to put our passion on display while bonding with other feline enthusiasts.
Once one decides to participate in a feline event, they are typically anxious to ‘learn the ropes’. What is expected from the registry holding the show and what must we do in preparation? This is especially true if you have never shown a cat before, so let’s start at the beginning….
Do you have the right cat? Not every cat is a show cat. Many cats are, by nature, reclusive and avoid the unknown. They are frightened of people and don’t like to leave their known environment. They may be the perfect cat for you, but not the perfect cat for the show hall. This is true of pedigree cats as well as mix breeds or moggies. On the other hand, some of our feline companions surprise us. Some cats learn to adapt to showing early because they had ‘practice’ going to shows or other events as kittens and are not frightened when taken out of their home as an adult cat. Other cats just seem to be born with a different character – they like to interact with new people, are curious about the unknown and don’t mind traveling. They enjoy being with their companion and want to go everywhere with them. Some even seem to have a K-9 like desire to please. These cats tend to be the stars of the show. If you share your heart and home with one of these characters, you may well have a show cat in the making!
If you are thinking of entering your cat in a show, the first thing you must do is ensure they have a microchip and confirm all vaccines are current (if not, time to make a visit to your vet). Ensure that you have the necessary paperwork to show microchip, rabies and a health certificate at the show if your community requires it. Kitty should be in excellent health when going to an expo. Never bring a sick cat to the show hall to put all the other cats at risk. There should be no runny noses, persistent sneezing or diarrhea, skin issues or fungus’. Your Vet can confirm that your cat his healthy and many shows have Vets check all animals at the door. This is to ensure the health and safety of all animals in the hall.
Now it is time to complete your entry for the show! The show will have a standard format entry, but these entry forms are usually designed for pedigreed cats, requiring registration numbers, parents, birth date, color classes, etc. For the pet/moggie entry, this information is not normally available. If you are familiar with filling out these show forms, use the formal entry, but if not, the best option is to write to the show manager with your cats information and let them know you would like to enter the show. They will help you from there. The information required for entry is:
Cats Name: Cats Age (approximate):
Color of coat (long or short): Color of Eyes:
Male or Female (must be sterilized): Record Number (if previously recorded by CFA):
Owner Info (Name, Address, Phone number & email):
Once the show manager or entry clerk has this information, they will enter it into their database and you will receive a confirmation of your entry (if you do not receive this within 3 business days, please contact the manager or clerk to verify your information was received). Your confirmation will contain information regarding the payment due for entry in the show, mandatory fees by the registering body (CFA), price of a catalog, fees for any special requests or advertising you have asked for, and also where the make payment. Normally, the fee includes both days if a two day show, but if you are interested in only attending one day, please let the entry clerk know.
What do the fees pay for? You will be assigned a cage space that is approximately 2’x2’ for each cat, but if you wish, you can request a double size cage (2‘x4’) for one cat, for an additional fee. If you bring two cats, they can combine two cages and stay together without additional fees. The cage rental, set up and take down and sterilization fee is included in the entry fee as is the cost for the club to rent the facility where the show is being held. You are also contributing to the judges’ payment who travel to the show to judge our cats. Many of our judges come from around the world and the show pays for travel expenses, hospitality and a ‘per cat’ judging fee. Each judge will award ribbons to their top cats. Occasionally these ribbons are sponsored, but usually they are paid for by the club and are part of the entry fee you pay to show. Every club wants their feline escorts to go home with a fond memory of the show. Taking home beautiful rosettes just adds to the fun!
There are some very important things you must know about preparing your cat for the show and one of the most significant is to clip those claws! Even cats who do not use their claws at home, may become startled when in the show hall and lash out at a judge. We want to protect our judges so we require all cats have their nails clipped before coming to the show. It is also a wise decision, for your safety, to cut nails before bathing your cat. Not all cats need bathing, some will do with a wipe down from a damp cloth and a good brushing. But for those who do need baths, you may need to work up to the full show bath so as not to tarnish the experience (see the Bathing article for help on this topic).
On the morning of the show, it is important to ensure you have a very clean cat. Go from front to back, starting with eyes, then ears, nose, toes and tail. All debris should be removed from the corners of the eyes so they are clean and sparkling. Ears should be cleaned with a cotton swab and then wiped out with a damp cloth. Nose should be clean and moist, no crust or slime on or around it. Wipe each foot, starting at the knee and working down to the toes, verifying that they are free from cat litter. And last but not least – lift the tail and make certain there are no remains that might be spotted by the judge. After all, this is a beauty contest!
On the morning of the show, arrive with your cat in a protective carrier during the designated check in time. Some shows require a Vet to check the cat upon entry to confirm health and vaccinations. Bring aslong a water & food dish, small litter pan and some comfortable bedding to put in the enclosure where the cat will rest between judging. It is also wise to bring a large towel or small sheet to drape over the cage should your kitty become frightened or tired during the day. You may also want to consider bringing Feliway spray or Rescue Remedy drops to help kitty relax, especially at a big or very busy show. It is important that both you and your cat are relaxed on the morning of the show – if you are nervous, they will be nervous. Often the first show is a bit stressful and herbal remedies can help them relax. After a couple of shows, once the cat realizes that there is nothing to be frightened of, they tend to become much less nervous. Once checked in, you will be given a catalog and your cat assigned a number. Feel free to write your cats name on a card and attach it to the cage, many visitors will ask. This number is how your cat will be called to judging.
Once your cat has settled into the cage, take a moment to introduce yourself to your neighbors and let them know it is your first show. Most exhibitors are very excited to meet new people in the cat fancy. They can also help point you in the direction of restrooms, coffee/tea and the desk where you will find the Master Clerk – who is available to help with all sorts of show and feline questions!
Once you and your kitty are relaxed, take a moment to walk through the show hall and become familiar with where the judging rings are located and the best path to take from your cage to the show ring. If there is free time and an empty ring, you can even ask the clerk if it is okay to practice taking your kitty to the ring.
NOW – Let the judging begin! Cats are judged in four classes; kittens, altered pedigree cats, breeding pedigreed cats and household pets. The ring clerks will call cats by number to be judged – it is important to remember your number! Your number is printed by your cats name in the catalog and is typically written on the front of the catalog you receive. You may also have a number card at your cage. All cats are judged by number.
When your number is placed above the cage, take your cat to the ring and place him in the judging cage. You cannot leave toys, food or blankets in this cage. He will be here for a very short time while waiting to be judged. Secure the cage and take a seat in front of the judges’ podium. The judge will review a pedigree cat based on the standard of points, but for a HHP, the standard is different. He is more concerned with temperament, presentation, grooming, health and overall wellbeing. Your cat will be awarded points determined by the judges opinion. During judging, the exhibitor should not interrupt the judge and hold all questions until the judge has completed judging all cats in that class. Speaking to a busy judge is only acceptable if the judge asks you a direct question. In the HHP category, judges will often ask the owners to tell them a little about the history of the cat being judged.
All Household pets will compete against all other, each being judged by all the judges. At the end of the judging day, the judges will independently rank them and each award their top 10 cats, hanging rosettes on the cage. Those top 10 cats will each receive points that will accumulate throughout the show year and at the end of each show year the top 25 HHP cats in the region and the top 25 HHP cats internationally are awarded titles. At this point I should mention that your cats must be recorded in CFA’s Household Pet (HHP) program to receive points or titles. The recording with CFA does nothing to impact your registrations you have with any other organization, it simply allows you to compete with CFA also. You also do not need to join the club to show at CFA shows.
In the event you ever have questions about CFA, the judging process or awards and titles. Look on our CFA website or contact us at UKCF.