Perhaps you have visited a Cat Show, and admired the different rosettes and certificates on the pens of the gorgeous pedigree cats. Maybe you have thought about showing your own cat, or perhaps you have even begun to do so. But what do all these titles, certificates, and rosettes actually mean. 'Champion', 'Grand Premier', ''Olympian'...you've heard all these titles mentioned by the experts, but it all seems like complete gobbledegook to you!
This article will explain briefly how it all works. There is a great deal to it all, so I will try to keep to the basics. And bear in mind that this is how things work for shows of the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy). Other cat organisations do it differently.
Entire cats, ie those which have not been neutered, are judged separately from neutered cats. They are then separated into different breeds, and often different colours within each breed. Each cat then enters in its own class, eg 'White Blue-eyedPersian', or 'Brown Tabby Maine Coon'. Then, males and females are judged separately. Each cat is judged against a standard of points for that breed, then may be awarded a rosette for First, Second, or Third place. If it comes first it will also get a Champion certificate. The cat needs three of these certificates at three shows under three different judges to attain the title of Champion.
After this the cat will go into different classes, competing only against other Champions. If it wins, it gets a Grand Champion rosette and certificate, and three of these under different judges will make the cat a Grand Champion. It then competes against other Grand Champions, and needs five wins to become an Imperial Grand Champion.
Things used to stop there, but in the last few years the Olympian classes have come along. All Imperial Grand Champions of all breeds compete against each other for an Olympian rosette and certificate. Five of these make the cat a Bronze Olympian, five more a Silver Olympian, and a final five a Gold Olympian. Again, these must be under different judges (within each group of five) and there are also restrictions on which shows can be entered...but don't worry too much about this for now. When talking about the cat, the titles are all used together, so that a cat could end up as Gold Olympian Imperial Grand Champion XXXX (the cat's name, including the pedigree prefix). Quite a mouthful! There are very few cat with a Gold Olympian title of course, as it can take many years to get that far, even if the cat is good enough.
Neutered cats are judged separately from the entire cats, but the awards work in exactly the same way. In this case, however, the titles include the word 'Premier' rather than 'Champion'. So three wins make a cat a Premier, three more a Grand Premier, and so on. And, of course, the top award is Gold Olympian Imperial Grand Premier.
Not everybody knows that non-pedigree cats can also be shown. There is no Standard of Points for them, and they are judged on presentation and temperament. They are split into two main groups. The first are ordinary Household Pets, or moggies. Then there are the Pedigree Pets, which are cats with some kind of pedigree or half pedigree background, but which are not suitable for being shown in pedigree cat classes.
The awards for non-pedigree cats work in exactly the same way as for the pedigrees, but the title is 'Master Cat' . So we have Master Cat, Grand Master Cat, and so on, eventually reaching Gold Olympian Imperial Grand Master Cat...which seems a very grand title for an ordinary little moggy, albeit a very friendly and special one!
Think you understand it all? Actually, it's still a little more complicated than this. What about kittens, you may ask. Well, kittens can get rosettes, but are not given titles. When it reaches the age of nine months, the kitten becomes officially an adult. At this point it may be shown as an entire cat. Suppose it attains Grand Champion status, and then the owner decides to neuter it. When it is shown next time, this cat will start again in the Neuter classes, ie the previous awards will not count. Or, perhaps a pedigree cat develops a small fault for showing purposes, after attaining an early title. Its owner might then, quite legitimately, decide to show it as a Pedigree Pet,. Again, it will start from the beginning, with earlier titles not being taken into account.
There are also other awards at Cat Shows. While males and females are judged separately within each class, they are then judged against each other for the 'Best of Breed' award. This is called 'Best of Colour' for the non-pedigrees. All the Best of Breeds are then judged against each other for 'Best of Variety', 'variety' being Persians, British Cats, Semi-Long Haired cats etc. Out of these, one is picked for the 'Best in Show' title. Similarly, there will be a 'Best Household Pet' and 'Best Pedigree Pet' at each show.
There are also various Miscellaneous or Side Classes at most shows. These may, for example, be limited to cats being shown for the first time, cats from a particular area, or may be charity classes. They may also be 'fun' classes, such as 'Cat With the Longest Whiskas' or 'Cat the Judge Would Most Like To Take Home'...usually won by a very cute kitten of course! These do not count towards any titles, but are a lot of fun, and often a chance to win rosettes - although an increasing number of shows are only giving place cards for side classes.
Hopefully, that has made the whole system a little clearer. If you are showing your own cat, and you don't understand how it all works or are not sure which class your cat should go in, you can always ask a more experienced person or the Show Manager. They will be happy to help, as we've all been there! And with any luck you will win at least one rosette to display in pride of place at home. But no matter if you don't, as to you, your cat will always be the best of the lot.