As I’m sure many of you know by now, I breed pedigree cats. Our purpose is to maintain and promote the breed. Part of that process is to enter our little darlings in cat shows where they can be judged and hopefully win awards.
The big difference between dog and cat shows is that with cat shows, we can’t run around a ring with our cats on leads. I wish we could! There are several cat breeds that will happily walk on a leash. In fact, it’s pretty much a requirement for Bengals and Savannas, which need a lot of exercise and stimulation. However the one thing I think all cat breeds have in common is their independence. They’ll walk on a leash, but where they want to go, not where you want them to go. So while it would be very entertaining, it would be chaos to have a bunch of cats walking around on leads. They would also fight.
We’ve had two shows within a month which gave me the opportunity to show all my cats. The first show was in Niagara Falls as part of the Pet Expo. It was two days, running on a weekend. The second show was in Belleville and was only a one day show since it coincided with the awards banquet, which took place on Saturday. Now I’ll use the pictures we took from the shows to explain the structure, what the judges are looking for and show you the expressions on my cats’ faces as they tolerated the judging process.
First, let's start with the Pet Expo floor in Niagara Falls:
From that view, the cat show area was in the top right. The next picture is the cat show area. This show had four rings, or judging areas. All the participants are in show cages, or kennels on tables. Some shows will provide cages, but they aren't very good, so it's best to buy your own. We prefer the soft-side collapsible kennels, like the burgundy one at the front in the picture below.
To show your cat, they must be registered with the organization running the show. In this case, that's the Canadian Cat Association (CCA). Even household pets can be registered and shown and we regularly get quite a few people doing that. Then you fill out the entry form for the show. Once your entry is confirmed, you are assigned a number for each cat (or kitten). When you arrive at the show, you're given a catalogue that lists all the registrants and the show schedule. You look for the category for your cats so you know where you need to go and listen to the announcements for when your cats are called to the ring. Each cage in the ring will have a number on top and you place your cat in the appropriate cage.
Pedigree cats are judged based on their conformity to the breed standard. Each breed has a published standard and one of the really interesting tasks as a breeder is trying to judge how well your six week old kitten adheres to the standard. They change a lot and all breeders will tell you about the stories when they sold a champion. You just hope that when you do, at least you sold him or her with breeding rights and not as a pet! If you think you have a high quality champion, you want to keep that animal in your cattery and have them as part of your breeding program.
In addition to the standard, cats are also judging on grooming and personality. Cat shows are beauty pageants and some cats just don't perform well in shows. My queen, Ada, is a perfect example. She hates shows and doesn't perform well. She is also small, so some judges may feel that she doesn't conform to the standard. The breed standard for British Shorthairs doesn't say anything about overall size, just that everything should be in proportion and they should have a cobby body. Cats are judged by multiple judges because each judge has different things that they consider important.
This only applies to pedigree cats. Once your cat has been judged by four judges and has not been disqualified by any of the four, you cat attains his Champion status. After that, he needs to beat out other Champions to gain points towards his Grand Champion status. Once he's attained that, he needs to beat other Grand Champions to earn his Double Grand Champion. After that, it's Master Grand Champion and then finally Supreme Master Grand Champion. You need to attend a lot of shows for several years to attain the higher ranks. Now let's get back to pictures!
Once our numbers were called, Jimi and I took our cats to the ring and put them in their judging cages. Male cats are always separated by female cats or empty cages to prevent fights. Then the judge takes each cat of the cage and brings her to the judging table. Here's Curie being judged:
Sharon is checking the proportion of Curie's ears and head. Curie's cage is number 22 in the background. Kyra was number 23, Kyan was 24 and Pascal was 25.
It was Kyra and Kyan who did the best at the Niagara Falls show. Here are some pictures of Kyra being judged:
The judges liked Kyra's rare colour and the quality of her coat. She also has a nice round face.
As you can see, Kyan just wishes this was over. One of the judges checked Kyan's testicles (to make sure they've dropped) and so after that, he tucked his tail between his legs when each judge picked him up. One judge laughed and said "You'll get the hang of this". The judge checked him because technically, he's still a kitten. They don't do that with adults because if there was a problem, they couldn't breed. Anyway Kyan did very well. He has a nice plush coat that's very soft as well. His face needs to fill out more and if it doesn't, we'll get him neutered and keep him as a pet.
Finally here are some pictures of Pascal. Pascal is an interesting case because his body is very good for a British Shorthair, but his markings aren't true. He's listed as a Silver Ticked Tabby, but he has some spots. Not enough spots to be called a Silver Spotted Tabby however. So he won't do well with any judge that knows their colours and markings, but not all judges do. He was ranked highest by one judge who felt body structure was the most important factor.
Once the judges have seen all the cats for each breed, they start awarding ribbons. Here is Curie, Kyra and Kyan with the ribbons on their cages:
They all get the red and green ribbons because they were the only British Shorthair cats in the show this time around and they all had different colours. The judge in this case awarded Kyan with best of breed and Kyra got second best of breed. None of that means points however. The really important part is when each judge picks their favourites among all shorthair cats and among all breeds. All breed means all cats, no matter their breed.
Here are the awards my cats won at the Niagara Falls show:
Curie - 7th best All Breed
Kyra - 10th best Shorthair, 8th best All Breed, 9th best All Breed
Kyan - 8th best All Breed, 5th best All Breed, 9th best All Breed, 10th best All Breed, 8th best Shorthair
Pascal - 7th best All Breed
There were eight judges in total and every single judge chose at least one of my cats in their finals rings. Here are some pictures showing the plaques they won on their kennel ribbons:
That's Pascal and Kyan sharing a kennel and the picture below has Curie and Kyra sharing the other kennel.
That concludes the Niagara Falls cat show. Thanks for reading! If you got this far, you deserve a medal.