Visiting a Cat Show? What to expect…
If you are a cat fancier or have been thinking about showing off your own feline friend or looking for a kitten to show, then you may be interested in attending a cat show to experience it beforehand.A cat show is a fun event for any feline enthusiast to attend – the many different breeds of cats in attendance makes it a fun hobby for people of all ages to enjoy. Shows are a fabulous way for breeders to determine “how they are doing” and how their cats stack up against the competition in their region or country. For a small entry fee, you can experience all the wonderful breeds that are available in South Africa.
Cat shows are usually sponsored by various pet-related brands and hosted by non-profit cat clubs that are affiliated with the Cat Federation of Southern Africa or other South African organisations. These organisations are made up of an executive committee who oversees the management of the organisation, a registration body that creates pedigrees for our litters, and keeps a database of such; a breed council that handles breed-related issues, proposals and complaints and judges forums who are the trained experts that determine our cats’ awards at shows.
At a CFSA cat show, breeders are usually happy to chat. answering questions about the various breeds of cats. They can also introduce you to other cat owners and breeders and refer you to those that have in depth knowledge of the showing process or various breeds you may be interested in. Exhibitors may be busy prepping and running to and from their cage to collect cats for judging so it is a good idea to find someone to chat to who isn’t too busy or ask the exhibitors when they will be able to speak to you. They may give you a card to contact them once the show has concluded if they have their hands full.
You will most likely have a lot of questions and want to cuddle all the beautiful furries and non-furries. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask questions about the cats, their care and unique characteristics, but it’s not a good idea to ask to touch or hold the cats, unless offered to do so by the owner. Keep in mind that each cat has their own special personality and may be overwhelmed by all the activity at a cat show and it is for hygiene and health purposes that most exhibitors will allow you to LOOK but not TOUCH.
Unlike the dog shows that are more well known, you will not expect to see people walking cats around a ring on leashes. Instead, there is an exhibitor area where the cats are kept in comfortable pens and the judging rings are set up in a separate area which is not usually open to public entry (you may watch from the sidelines). From registered breeds to everyday household pets who have unknown lineage or rescue cases, there are a wide variety of cats to look at. Cats are not expected to perform any special tricks or agility based contests. Instead they are judged on how well they cope with being handled, their looks (we call this “type”) and unique features for each breed. The criteria for each breed’s type is set out in a document called a Standard of Points.
Should you choose to purchase a kitten from a cat breeder who is an exhibitor at the show, you will find many beautiful colour varieties and temperaments in felines to choose from that are from local and imported bloodlines. Be prepared to pay for and wait for the right cat! You will want a kitten that is well socialised, enjoys being handled and is a good example of its breed. You will make an investment in a cat that is show quality or a kitten that has “show potential” that you can raise to be a future Supreme Champion or even, a Cat of the Year qualifier or show winner. Be sure that you don’t get caught up in wanting a cat, but that you can commit to the lifetime of that animal and the care it requires. After all, competition isn’t everything. The majority of your time with your cat will be caring for its needs at home and show careers may not last longer than 3 – 4 years.
A cat show can be an exciting experience for cat lovers of any level. Be sure to visit a cat show in your area and see what surprises await you in the cat world. Visit www.cfsa.co.za for more info on upcoming CFSA cat shows.