Should I enter my cat in a cat show?
Daniel F3 Bengal cat - Photo by Michael Broad. Free to use but please provide a credit.
I was out in the garden yesterday and saw Daniel. Daniel lives with his human companion, Pierrot. They are my neighbors. Nothing exceptional there you might think. Not quite the case because Daniel is a rather exceptional cat, an F3 Bengal cat and he has masses of what I call bling and zing! He is also very athletic and must the fastest cat over a 50 meter sprint in London! And he is a pet cat, no more no less. So should he be, could he be a show cat?
I just snapped the photo in the garden. He looks enormous but is not quite as big as he looks in the photo. I think he was seriously thinking of running up the tree for a second. As it happened he sprinted down the garden after a pigeon that was a full 50 yards away.
I suggested to Pierrot that Daniel is good enough to enter a cat show and would probably win something. So should he?
I thought I would see what it takes to enter a cat show from scratch, without any connection whatsoever with the cat fancy show cat world. It looks a bit daunting to be honest and that is just for the humans! What about the cat?
And there, I think, is the crux of the matter. When people enter a cat for a cat show they are doing it for themselves, aren't they? They must be. The cat doesn't want to win a prize and therefore has no reason to be there.
In fact there are some downsides to showing a cat for the cat! Before I mention them, though, there are probably some upside stuff too.
Some problems/considerations when entering your cat in a cat show:
- Will your cat enjoy the show? I think your cat has to be pretty confident and relaxed in strange situations and in a cage if he or she is to get something positive from a cat show. There is a lot of cage time for a cat what with transporting the cat to the show and then waiting around to be judged. Also nervous and shy cats are less likely to win because temperament plays a big role in deciding winners. It seems only confident relaxed cats need apply. The show cats I have met are almost invariably extremely confident and relaxed around people.
- You are going to have buy the rule book because neither the GCCF nor the CFA publish the rules online which I find a bit irritating. They could at least publish the rules in outline. For example, if you are showing a random bred cat (a moggie) do you have to register your cat with the cat association concerned? I am not sure. If your cat is a purebred you will need to register. The GCCF will let your cat enter a show provided the application to register is pending.
- Is your purebred cat of good enough quality to make it worthwhile entering? I think Daniel is good enough but what do I know? It is probably necessary to ask a person who has shown cats for their advice first.
- Expense is one factor. You will need a fancy cage for your cat to sit in at the cat show. These are like little cat apartments so they can't come that cheap. Then there are those famous curtains. Cat show curtains are startling to newcomers. They look extraordinary and they are certainly very fancy. Curtains are placed around the cage to make the cat feel calmer and prevent cat arguments neighbour to neighbour! Of course they don't have to be fancy and I am sure some competitors (the human half of the team) prepare their own curtains. There is all the other expenses too, such as travel costs, registration costs, entry fees, parking costs, and the bits and pieces that go in the cage etc. plus grooming equipment.
- An important consideration is the faint risk of your cat catching a disease at a cat show. There are lots of cats and they are close together. When I first went to a cat show I was told not to place my hand through the cage and touch a cat. I presume this was to prevent the spread of disease, perhaps things such a ringworm but I am not sure.
- The rules and hoops and hurdles that both cat and human need to go through are quite complicated and time consuming. They would put me off. Perhaps they could be simplified? You will need a copy of the rules and a list of cat shows so that you can contact the show administrators to enter your cat.
I have probably been a bit harsh on the downside. There is of course an upside to cat showing but is it all to do with the person?
A person showing their cat can get a lot of pleasure from it; meeting people, learning about cats and hopefully winning awards. What does the cat take away from the experience?
I have to ask that because I consider this website, the voice of the cat. Well, I am sure some cats actually enjoy it too. After all it is a change of scene and stimulating for a cat. That must be a good thing.
But it would seem to depend on the cat and his or her personality. It is down to us to make a good judgment on that one. The first question that we should ask is, "Will my cat be OK with this?"
Back to glamorous Daniel. He could do well at a cat show I feel. A Bengal breeder will know better. But I know Pierrot won't show him at cat shows. He is happy for Daniel to be his companion and no more. And that, bottom line, is what cat caretaking is all about. Cat showing is a human concept and a human activity.
Two external links for more from the experts (these open in new tabs or windows):
In the UK - GCCF - Would you like to Show your Cat?
In the USA - CFA - Ready... Set ... Show