Would You Enter Your Cat In A Cat Show?

By Elisa Black-Taylor

I have a question for the readers here. Would you enter your moggie cat in a cat show? I entered my Maine Coon mix Sissy back in the mid 1980’s. I’d like to tell you about that experience and why I did it.

There are many cat organizations out there. The one’s I’m most familiar with are Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA). You can see a list on PoC at this page.

House Cats at Cat Shows

Sissy and Mandy. Collage by Elisa.

I entered Sissy through the Foothills Felines, which is a CFA group. The show had a category for housecats, so I figured why not. It would be a fun way to show off my beautiful cat, as well as see other people’s cats and just enjoy the day with a lot of other cat lovers.

The Process

I still remember Sissy riding on a small shelf located under the glove compartment in my car. Back then I wasn’t as cautious as I am today about transporting a cat. Of course, back then people didn’t drive like they got their drivers license from a local discount store.

Sissy went into the show hall at Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in her carrier around 9 a.m. and we were given a cage, a number and a schedule of events taking place that day. There was a small charge to enter her. I believe it was around $10 back in those days. It didn’t take long to get her adjusted to her cage, where she soon curled up to take a nap! She had four hours before being judged in the housecat category.

I spent that time chatting with the cat lovers on either side of me, as well as wandering the entire showing floor. There were cats of every breed imaginable being shown. Some purebred cat owners drove hundreds of miles to enter their cats in the show. There were product displays as well as free samples of cat food being handed out. Purebred kittens available for adoption were also on exhibit.

It was a very exciting, enjoyable day. Sissy did an excellent job at showing off for the judges. The judge holding her looked her over, then he held her up using both hands to present her to everyone watching. I was SO proud of her. She won 3rd place!

I’d like to believe I didn’t traumatize her too much for my day of pleasure hanging out with cat people. She even had her photo made by a professional photographer on-site for the occasion. Judges, as well as cat lovers attending the event would stop at each cage and chat with the companion with the cat. Sissy didn’t appear too concerned with anyone and slept a good part of the day. Sissy also curled up and slept on the hour ride back home.

I believe the actual judging was about the only time Sissy was awake, although she did open her eyes for a few of the people who spoke to me. Sissy had beautiful emerald green eyes.

I never entered another show. It was a conflict in work schedule more than any other reason. I’d love to put a few of my cats in shows either under the housecat (moggie) category or the shelter rescue category.

This video of a show in Oklahoma gives a flavor of what it is like at a cat show. You can see it is rather noisy and quite a lot is going on.

Suitability For Showing?

I have several cats I’d never consider showing. Gizzy comes to mind first. She’s the devil incarnate when meeting a new cat. Gizzy has calmed down a lot since her rescue. She never gave Sealy or Sheela any trouble. She may have just been terrified from the shelter experience. I don’t believe she’d do well around a lot of other cats, with all the noise that goes with a cat show. She’d be just as likely to spend the day growling, hissing and spitting in her cage, then attack whichever judge had the misfortune of holding her up to the spectators.

I’d love to show Furby, since he’s one of my better known cats. The trouble is, Furby has a small head. He reminds me of a bowling pin when he sits up. I don’t think he’d win any awards and he’d probably think I’d come up with a new way to torture him.

I’d also love to show Sheela, our Maine Coon mix who has just rejoined our family. But it would be too traumatic for her. I wouldn’t want to show any cat I feel wouldn’t enjoy the experience.

Mandy would be my most likely cat to win an award. She was in our very first rescue back in 2010. Mandy was the ugliest kitten I’d ever seen, and this was the primary reason I wanted her. Take a look at her shelter photo. She and her brother Sammy had horrible URI’s when we first brought them home. Only their brother Jasper was healthy. Mandy reminded me of a possum with her dark eyes.

Mandy LOVES to be the center of attention. She’s been the welcoming committee and bath giver to any new cats or kittens to join our home. She likes to knead whoever’s holding her. Mandy also has a loud purr that mimics a roosting pigeon. She also doesn’t mind being held up over my head. I’ve done this little exercise with her since she was small, just in case I did decide to enter her in a cat show when she got older. I feel Mandy would turn on the charm to anyone holding her. She’s also my best lap cat at home.

Now for the big question. Would you enter your cat in a cat show? Which cat would you enter? I ask these questions because showing your housecat is purely for your own pleasure. Breeders enjoy cat shows and showing because the more awards their cats take home, the more famous their cattery becomes. I imagine it may also up the price a breeder can charge for a kitten or a retired show cat if that feline has won top honors at a cat show.

Are those of us who enter moggie competition categories just feeding our own pride, or are we truly showing pride in our cat? Do any of you feel this is exploiting the cat, since this doesn’t involve making a cattery famous by the winning of awards.

I’m curious as to your thoughts on this.


Facebook Comments


Would You Enter Your Cat In A Cat Show? — 29 Comments

  1. I would not enter my cat for a cat show. The reason: the whole thing would be disturbing for my cat with no benefit for my cat.

    The travel, the noise, the whole thing would upset him. Even some purebred cats who are used to being shown at cat shows get fed up with it and nervous. They hide under blankets or lie in their litter tray – a sign of anxiety.

    Some cats are OK with the whole thing but..

    Cat shows are for people. They are not for cats. As I think only of what is good for the cat, cat shows are no good from my perspective. Although I respect the views of other people.

    • I agree. My cats would hate it too. PoC is the cat show for my motley crew! I can show them off here on these pages in ways that are deeper. Readers can ‘get’ who my cats are and see the pictures as well. This is a great venue for showing off my lovely cats.

      Thanks Michael.

  2. My childhood cat Tippy would have been fine with a cat show. She was always up for anything and went places with us in the way most families might bring the family dog along. I’m not sure she would have won any awards. Her personality and temperament made her special, but she was not extraordinary in any other way. She was just a gray tabby cat with a white tip on her tail. She looked just like the other cats on the farm.
    Monty is an extraordinarily beautiful cat. He is really gorgeous. Though he’s a black cat, stripes are visible on his paws and his tail in the right light. I love how his long tail has a little kink at the top, but I guess judges take off points for that in cat shows. His vet admires Monty, but is a little afraid of him at the same time. Monty could never be a show cat. He’d hiss and growl and probably rip the judge to shreds given the chance. My aunt calls him my “tough little street cat.”

  3. No, I would never enter our cats in Cat Shows, they wouldn’t choose for themselves to be put in a basket and taken on an unnecessary journey, poked and prodded by a vet, primped up and put in a cage for people to gawp at for hours on end.
    Some cats may seem like it doesn’t bother them but we all know how stoic and accepting cats are, they just make the best of whatever anyone chooses to do to them.
    I hate the thought of those beautiful proud free spirits being forced to endure Cat Shows which are purely for the glory of their caretakers.

  4. Some people say their cats like going to shows but I wonder if they are just happy to have gotten to the show and not be in the car anymore ..or something like that. I agree with Michael about this in general – its for people and not of benefit to the cat.

    Therefore it is a conflict of interest really. I’m sure all those cats would be happier at home relaxing on the couch or playing with a catnip banana. One show, once, for a particularly outgoing cat – not far from home?? Maybe, maybe just once, but only really if it was a cat who liked going to the vet and being in the car and only if it was no further than half an hour or so away.

    • Good point. For a relaxed cat who accepts noise and commotion etc. one cat show for fun seems acceptable. But cat shows invariably mean cats being in cages for long periods. That can’t be fun for any cat. And the environment is strange. I have seen cats at cat shows hiding under blankets in their cages. And the owner often puts a blanket in the cage for this purpose. That says a lot.

      Show cats looks very well behaved and relaxed. I read somewhere that some breeders give them tranquillisers. No idea if that is true. But at one cat show I attended a competitor had dusted the fur of his white purebred cat (I think it he was a LaPerm cat) with some white powder to enhance the coat. I was shocked. No one else was 🙂 True.

      I just don’t really believe in the whole thing.

  5. I wonder which country has a greater turn out for these shows? It would be interesting to know.

    Mandy would love all the attention, but I don’t think any of my other cats would appreciate being in a cage all day.

    I do remember the professional catteries seemed to be constantly brushing and poofing their cats hair. I’m sorry, but after one good brushing that would be it for me. I wonder if those cats get nervous because the cattery owners are nervous about how they’d do?

  6. That story about dusting the cat’s fur reminds me of the lengths women go to for beauty pageants. I never really got the appeal of those either. At least if an adult woman chooses to subject herself to that type of rigorous competition with all the hassles and tedium that would accompany it, that is her choice. But now people are entering little kids in beauty pageants and I’m trying to be understanding, but it just seems awful for the most part. I think I would have loved it, but not all the kids like it and they seem pretty miserable. Like most cats at a cat show, I imagine. The problem with these competitions is they can’t get at what is real and lasting, what’s truly important and wonderful. A person can be beautiful on the outside but ugly inside. A cat can be a marvelous companion and the bond between cat and human is a miraculous thing– but no cat show can put that in display. There is no way to quantify, measure or judge certain qualities. They aren’t the qualities featured in shows and pageants, but they are the most important in life. Years ago we had Shirley Temple, today we have Honey Boo Boo. That about sums it up.

    • Absolutely Ruth, the cat show is about the appearance of a cat. The whole cat fancy turns on that fact. Which is a big weakness in the whole thing. Cats are companions and when you know your cat you don’t see the outward appearance. You see the cat, the whole cat and the greater part is the character. The same applies to people. Unfortunately some people, most people are obsessed with appearance, the look of things. It is a reflection of the shallow nature of people’s thinking.

      • My cat with the most inner beauty would have to be Sealy. No way would I put him through anything. He’d probably lay there like a limp dish rag while the judges examined him. But he’s the most beautiful cat I’ve ever known just to have survived all he has.

        The judges I remember used a feather to see if the cats were playful. That player a big part in picking a winner.

        I remember the white powder too. Why would anyone powder a cat?

  7. Hi Michael,

    No, I would never enter a cat in a cat show. The reasons are much the same as others have stated in the comments. The cat would dislike the whole experience and wouldn’t get anything out of it.

    I agree that cat shows are for humans only.

    It’s a no-brainer for anyone who truly cares about their cats and that’s putting it nicely.

    I’m very much against the whole concept and those who participate. I don’t mind making my stance clear.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

      • I wonder whether cattery owners who show their cats on a regular basis consider it work. I’d hate to have to pack up every few weeks and spend an entire weekend at a show. After awhile it would become old.

        I traveled the entire southeast for 8 years as a photographer and driving became a chore. I wonder whether showing would become the same or if the cattery owners continue to enjoy it.

        I’d love to spend a weekend around cats, but not if I felt I had to and these days I’d get more enjoyment out of it without taking a cat. I find it hard to stay in one place more than a few hours.

  8. I agree, Elisa. I’d have trouble sitting there that long and I think the noise would really get to me. If it would get to me, think how the cats must feel. I don’t suppose you can just come in, get your cat judged and leave. It’s got to be a long day for human and cat. When my first husband and I went to the EAA fly in in Oshkosh most of our time was spent sitting by the airplane. He’d talk to people about his home built plane and I sat there– not being a pilot or a builder and about ten years younger than the youngest people who could afford to own/build planes– well, nobody had any interest in anything I would have to say. I was just ignored all day. The tops of my ears got sunburned. At the end of the event Danny couldn’t understand why I was cranky. I topped off the weekend with barfing in the airplane on the way home. What was the highlight of his short life just wasn’t all that great for me. I guess some people entering their cat in shows don’t see it that way, but for the cat it’s not that fun. He sits in a cage all day, for the most part. The human goes off to talk to other cat lovers, but no one talks to the cat. He’s just stuck in one place all day. He probably gets kind of cranky. And to top it off, the poor kitty probably barfs in his carrier during the car ride home (or pees on himself). The cat will put up with the cat show because he loves his human, and if the human wants him there he will do it. But there are things he’d rather be doing.

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