The cat show: first steps

Cat shows, these unknowns! Below you will find a practical vade-mecum, intended for beginners, to help them find their way in this mysterious world.

First of all, in order to be able to participate in a cat show, you need to own a…feline.

The requirements

Concretely, any cat, of race and endowed with a pedigree regularly issued by a recognized association, can participate in an exhibition.
In case the feline is devoid of pedigree, it can nevertheless be registered in the category of “house cats”, if this is provided for in the rules of the exhibition.
The most important thing is that the cat is up to date with the vaccinations: the trivalent vaccine, obligatory for all cats and the rabies vaccine, carried out at least one month before the show, if the cat is more than five months old. The vaccinations must be recorded in the feline health record book and duly certified by a licensed veterinarian. Of course, at the time of the show, the cat must also be in good health and absolutely free of parasites. Last but not least, the nails must be checked and correctly cut. It should be noted, that before entering the show, each cat must undergo a veterinary examination to verify that all these conditions are met.
As far as his grooming is concerned, even if it is not mandatory to wash your four-legged friend before the show, it is strongly advised to do so, because this aspect is also evaluated by judges.
Indeed, a cat that looks good, with a beautiful shiny and silky coat can obtain a better ranking than a cat perhaps more beautiful, but less well groomed.
It is of utmost importance that the star of the show can indeed present the best of himself at this beauty contest.

Lodging and meals

If the cat meets the requirements, it is important to take care of its “housing” during the show.
Usually, the organizing committee provides the participants with cages stored on the show premises, where the cat will be housed for the duration of the event. In France, the size of the cages is between 50X50X100 and 60X60X120, while in other countries, such as Italy, the standard model cages are slightly larger, i.e. 65X65X130.

Before preparing the cage, it is essential to make sure it is clean and disinfected to avoid colds or parasites.
For the comfort of your kitty, it is necessary to provide blankets and cushions as well as a synthetic grass mat, ideal for naps and for his nails. For the decoration (bottom of cage and side), fantasy has no limits: hanging hammocks, pillows and toys will be very useful to your companion to help him to pass the long hours of exposure. But what should absolutely not be missing is a litter box!

On the front of the cage, facing the public, there is no obligation regarding the decor, but almost all exhibitors use decorations in the form of curtains, coordinated with the interior layout and often embroidered with the name of the owner or breeder.
Since shows usually last at least 9 hours, it is necessary to provide for the cat’s most material needs, with a bowl of water that is always fresh and frequently renewed, as well as some kibbles.

It is not advisable, during the show, to feed him with wet food. It is preferable to wait until the evening at home or at the hotel, because it is possible that following an exuberant “maneuver”, carried out in the cramped space of the cage, the cat may dirty its beautiful coat.

What do I need for my show?

Sometimes the organizers do not provide enough chairs for everyone. So think about bringing folding chairs or stools.
Usually the organizers provide one or more grooming tables in the ring, but you can also bring your own.

There are small ones with hooks to hang them from the cage and others with foldable wheels that, when closed, can be used as a cart to transport the cat and its equipment. Don’t forget, however, to bring a towel to cover the common table before putting the kitty on it, in case you decide to use it, as well as all the necessary grooming products.

In summary, here is what is indispensable and essential :

  • one or more vaccinated and healthy cats!
  • the health booklet of the cat (and passport if the show takes place abroad)
  • disinfectant for cleaning cages
  • food
  • water
  • 2 bowls, possibly with holders to hook them to the cage

And what is strongly advised :

  • hammock, pillows, cushions and some jousts, for the comfort of the feline
  • anti-intrusion protection for the cage (transparent plastic or mesh)
  • curtains and decorations for the outside of the cage, according to your desires
  • a small grooming table
  • towels
  • Grooming products (shampoo, talcum powder, scented towels, brushes, combs and carders)
  • a folding chair or stool (for your comfort!)

How does an exhibition work?

Upon arrival on site, you are greeted by the organizer, who verifies your registration and gives you the number that has been assigned to your cat, the number of the ring in which the cage is located, as well as a catalog that lists all the cats by breed, variety and class.
Immediately afterwards, your cat is examined by the veterinarian, who may prohibit the participation of cats suffering or affected by parasites or pregnant females.
After the visit, you may take your cat to its cage.
It is very important to make sure that the cat has been registered in the appropriate category, class and variety, by carefully consulting the catalog.
In case the data do not correspond, you must go immediately to the secretariat of the exhibition to report the problem, so that the exact information is reported on the judges’ cards.
Each judge has a certain number of cats to examine. The first thing to know is to which judge you should bring your cat.
Each judge has a table on which your cat will be presented and cages in which the cat will be housed, waiting for your turn.
It is also good to remember that for the show, cats are divided by category (Persian type cats, short-haired, long-haired or semi long-haired, Siamese and Oriental type cats), that each category includes several breeds and that each breed is divided into color varieties.

The judgements

Once the category of your cat has been determined, you must wait for the judge to examine it.
The cat is usually called to the microphone by its number (never by its name or the name of its owner), the judge having only the knowledge of its breed, variety, age and class.
If you arrive at the table with your cat and the judge is examining another kitty, you can either keep your pet with you or put it in one of the cages placed at the judge’s table.
The cages are kept clean by staff who also clean the judge’s tables after each event and who can, if the case arises, bring the cat to the judge for you (for example if you have two cats and you are already being examined by another judge).
After the judge has examined your cat, he fills out the certificate indicating his appreciation for each element that makes up the judgment on the cat itself. Once the evaluations are completed, the ranking list is established and titles are awarded by championship class and sex.

The Nomination and the Best

The best cats in each category are then nominated. They can then go on stage and compete for the best cat of the event.
Cats that have been nominated are called to the microphone in turn, in order of category and gender.
At this stage of the show, the cat cannot be presented to the judge by its owner, but only by a Steward.

The owner, when his cat has been called, must place it in the cage that has been assigned to him and located near the Best judging area, and wait for the Steward to bring it to the judge when the time comes.
The presence of the owner in the judging area is not allowed, under penalty of disqualification of the cat and the consequent loss of all titles and certificates obtained during the event.
The cat with the highest number of votes obtains the Best in Class.
Once all the Best in category are selected, we proceed to the choice of Best of Best.

Now, with or without prize and cockade, the show is almost over.
All you have to do now is to collect your certificate from the secretariat, on which the organizer’s stamp shows the result obtained by your pussycat. Enclosed, you will also find all the appreciations written by the judge.
Although it is nice to get points and titles, the most important thing is the reading of the evaluation sheet, because with it you can better understand what are the defects and qualities of your cat.

Don’t forget either, that beyond the respect of the standards of comparison, there is always an absolutely subjective component, linked to the personal preferences of the human being: with equal standards, a judge is likely to choose the cat according to his own taste, as, by the way, each one of us would do.