Pedigree Show Cat Hated Cat Shows

Snickers, a Pixie-bob show cat in an instrument of torture to restrain her so her claws could be trimmed while preventing her attacking her owner.

Snickers, a Pixie-bob show cat in an “instrument of torture” to restrain her so her claws could be trimmed while preventing her attacking her owner.

Snickers, a Pixie-bob show cat wanted to stop attending cat shows. She learned to hate it. She made that quite clear to everyone including her owners and the cat show judges as you can see in the video below. Jackson Galaxy, the cat behaviorist was called in to help. His initial assessment, wisely but ultimately based upon common sense, was that Snickers did not want to be at a cat show. There are a lot of good reasons for that, one of which is the noise at cat shows and another is the number of people that a show cat has to encounter at a the show. There are a lot of things about a cat show which are the exact opposite to what a cat would normally like. They are not calm, quiet places where a domestic cat can find a bit of solitude; far from it. Often the owners provide hiding places in their cages and the cats need them.

The first video describes the problems that the owners were facing. You can see that they were keen to carry on showing their purebred pedigree cat. The wife was particularly keen and the driving force. Incidentally, as mentioned, the cat is a Pixie-bob. This is quite a rare pedigree cat with a short tail. This cat breed has a slightly wild look – a bit like a bobcat – but there are no wild genes in this purebred cat.

You can see the outcome of Jackson Galaxy’s intervention in the video below. You will see that he tried to desensitise Snickers to the trappings of being a show cat and also to accept having her claws trimmed. Her claws had to be trimmed as part of the cat show rules. Stickers so disliked this that in the end her owners used what Jackson Galaxy called an “instrument of torture” to restrain her, which in retrospect made things a lot worse because Snickers associated having her claws being trimmed with a very unpleasant experience (which is clearly was). Jackson Galaxy’s objective was to make both the experience of being a show cat and having her claws trimmed relatively enjoyable by desensitising her, which was carried out by associating a pleasant experience with these unpleasant situations. Despite all this, unsurprisingly, Snickers was retired.

I think the story is quite instructive about cat behaviour and cat caretaking, generally. What can the average cat owner take from this story? The first obvious point is not to force a cat to do anything if he or she has made it clear that she does not wish to do it because you will always lose that battle and in any case it is wrong.

The next thing is to make sure that a cat’s environment is pleasant and as mentioned above the cat show halls could never be described as being a pleasant environments for a domestic cat. It has always amazed me how placid some show cats are which in turn has made me wonder why. Clearly some cats accept all the noise and the hubbub but I do believe that a number of show cats are sedated in some way to make the whole experience acceptable which includes by the way some long-distance travelling very often.

Lastly, I liked the way the attitude of Snickers to nail trimming was altered. It is in the video. I’d watch it and learn.

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Pedigree Show Cat Hated Cat Shows — 15 Comments

  1. Hi Michael,I watched this episode of MY CAT FROM HELL and I can really understand Snickers not being happy with the cat shows.Some cats may like the shows but I don’t think many would enjoy it.It was really good to see that Snickers owners put her first and retired her.At the end of the day we don’t have our beautiful cats for very long and we must make their lives as happy as possible.

    • Totally agree. Some cats do cope with cat shows. I think the word “cope” is appropriate because I would doubt whether many actually enjoy the experience; the cat show is too noisy to start with. I think the owners pushed too hard as it is. They could have stopped earlier because their cat was adamant she had had enough.

  2. I hate cat shows, why should cats be forced to be subject to being gawped at just for the glory of their ‘owner’
    The cat gets nothing out of it.
    Let cats be cats!
    I also hate seeing cats in muzzles, those dignified creatures must hate it too!
    Grumpy old woman today 🙁

    • Harvey sent me an e-mail in which he said that cat shows are unnatural places for the domestic cat. It depends how you view the cat shows scene. If you are wrapped up in the idea of breeding show cats etc and don’t take the time to step back and ask some fundamental questions about the welfare of cats you can ignore the fact that the environment of cat shows is unsuited to the domestic cat. It is not surprising that some show cats lose their temper and become aggressive. I would like to know the percentage of show cats who do become aggressive. I am sure that when they are younger they probably accept it but quite possibly within a short space of time they complain through aggression.

      • And not only that they intuitively dislike it, yet most tolerate it, even if drugged, what about their human aggressors at such important events? Maybe they should be drugged, so as not to pass on their tension and anxieties onto their little showstoppers. Or better yet, set up a booth for human “feliway” pheromones. lol

        • What is very apparent when you go to these cat shows is that they take place in barn-like places with lots of noise and activity together with plenty of visitors meandering around the place peering through cages and poking their fingers through cages (although the competitors forbid that sometimes to prevent disease being spread). That is another downside to cat shows; the potential spread of contagious diseases and the spread of disease from cat to people and even vice versa.

    • Your response was not grumpy in the least. I don’t know about you, except from what you’ve related here, and that seemed to come from experience. I’ve wandered through a few of these cat shows in my youth, too. It was clear that no one was tossed a kudo cat treat except the owner of the pedigree on that particular cat. I find this immoral and unconscionable. These cats, like any cat, unless going to the vet [which is arguably bad enough], should not be held in “animal control/humane society” cages. They should not be held under public scrutiny at all. It is inhumane. grrr….

  3. I don’t see how any cat would be able to, actually, enjoy being shown like that. What do the stage caretakers think their cat is getting from it?

    • I had to accompany the duty vet to cat shows sometimes and I felt very sorry for the cats, they had no choice but to accept what their owners put them through.
      It’s the same old story, cats stoically accept things but not a single one I ever saw looked very happy or got anything out of it, the smug looks on the winning owners faces showed who did.

  4. This is a clear case of a woman wanting something so much she is willing to abuse her cat to get it. You can see in the mans eyes as she goes on and on about the various ribbons you can earn, that he knows she sounds like she is obsessed, but feel’s powerless (is whipped as we say in the states. I’m glad Jackson stepped in and stopped this, but I have to question if this couple are the right ones to own a showcat at all.

    FYI: I won’t give away what happened in this week’s show, but I must say I am mostly satisfied with the outcome. I’ll say more when you all get a chance to see it.

  5. There is nothing that benefits the cat at all just the owners!! My cats would hate it and I’d never put them through it 🙁

  6. Give me your thoughts on this, but I suspect that the show was scripted fairly well before it occurred, cat show, I mean, and that she, as well as he, were persuaded to play the necessary roles to get this point across.

    Well done, Mr. Jackson Galaxay. H5!

    • I don’t think the behaviour of the cat was in anyway scripted! So the pictures you see of the “misbehaving” cat a the cat show are obviously quite natural but there is certainly an element of entertainment about the video because that is the market that Jackson Galaxy operates in. The basic principle remains true that some show cats get to a point in their careers when they have had enough and start misbehaving but the underlying bigger point I believe is also true that no domestic cat (or v.few) wants to go to a cat show. It is just that some of them put up with it when they are younger but then become tired of it.

  7. Then again, parts of it may have been live. In all events, this singular point involved in every cat show (even dog shows) where the pre-stage last minute details take place between the low-self-esteemed human and the “perfect” showcat take place, has got to harbor a great amount of trepidation, anxiety, angst, etc. I do not understand why anyone would want to put a beloved pet through this.

    • Good point Caroline. These are competitive places and as such the people may be slightly stressed which I suppose is picked up by the cats. Just another reason why cat shows are arguably not a good idea.

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