When I got Summer, my beautiful and friendly Somali, one of the conditions that the breeder gave me was that I continue to show her. As a kitten, she was developing well and just starting to get finals in the judging rings at cat shows. I agreed, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve had so much fun showing Summer, and she has become a regional winning cat in both organizations she belongs to, TICA (The International Cat Association) and CFA (Cat Fanciers Association). Standards and looks-wise, she doesn’t have the greatness to be a national or international winner, but she is a very good show cat. Would I do it again with another cat? You bet! But not necessarily with another Somali, or with a pedigreed cat at all.
A lot of people assume that you need a fancy breed cat to compete in cat shows … but you don’t. Although the breeds get most of the attention from news outlets, every show I’ve been to has a Household Pets category where your average, everyday cat of unknown ancestry can compete. In fact, when the Household Pet cats are being judged, those rings tend to be the loudest and liveliest. Often the cats will have cheering sections. The breed cat rings tend to be tenser, with breeders and owners really looking for a win. In the Household Pets category, every cat is a winner, just for showing up … and it gets better from there.
Of course, not every cat will enjoy being at a cat show, but it is something to consider if your cat is outgoing and does not mind being handled by people he doesn’t know. If you have a kitten with a friendly personality, so much the better – in CFA, Household Pet cats and kittens compete together, and there is a Household Pet Kitten category for youngsters between four and eight months of age in TICA. You can get your kitten acclimated to the shows, and the requirements for them, early on. For showing, your cat must be healthy, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and flea and parasite free. He should be bathed, and claws clipped on all four paws. (Declawed cats are disqualified from competition.) It also helps to get your cat used to car travel – the nearest cat show may be farther away than the usual trip to the vet.
Showing can create a closer bond between you and your cat, and get you both out of the house to meet new people. Plus, there’s always the possibility he’ll be a show winner. Even without a pedigree, each ring has a final, and there are usually four to six rings per day at a show. Get enough finals and just like a breed cat, your cat can win titles and maybe even become a regional winner.
If you are curious about showing your cat, the best thing you can do is go to a cat show near you and find people who are showing in the Household Pets category. It’s easy enough to hunt down the people showing (also known as exhibitors) – just go to a ring that has announced Household Pet judging and watch who is bringing up cats. Find out when they have a good break between rings (often around lunchtime), and ask them how to get started. It may seem a little intimidating at first – I certainly thought so! – but the learning curve isn’t that big. If you have a cat who adjusts to the show routine, you both will really enjoy yourselves … and how will you know if you don’t try?