Cat shows are held at various locations throughout the year. In fact, there is probably at least one show nearly every weekend somewhere in the country. Of course these are of great interest to anyone who wants to show their cat. But they are also good places for a day out for anyone who likes cats.
Most shows are open to visitors from around midday or slightly later, until the show closes, usually at 5 pm. So what is available at cat shows for the visitor? Firstly, you can see a wide variety of cats, often the best examples of every breed. You can find out about breeds which interest you, and maybe talk to owners and breeders. There will be many shops and stalls at most shows, selling all manner of items for cats and their owners. And you can watch how the judging works, including the exciting finale, when the Best in Show is chosen. So let us take a look at each of these in turn...
You might think that every breed will be represented at every show. For some shows, this is the case – although of course the rarer breeds may not have many examples, particularly if the show is quite small. These are termed 'All Breed' shows. But please note that not all cat shows include very breed. Some are run by clubs for a particular breed, and in that case, only cats of that breed will be there. And some shows will have a group of breeds, but not all of them, for example, those run by a Longhaired and Semi-Longhaired Cat Club will not have any short haired cats. This could be quite inportant if you are looking for a particular breed. I was at a show recently run by the Short Haired Cat Society, and I heard one visitor asking why there were no Maine Coons there. This breed, of course, is Semi-Longhaired, and there were none of them at this show, which only catered for short haired breeds.
The only exception to the above is for the Household Pet section, which is usually included in every show, even those for an individual breed. So if you want to look at non-pedigrees, or Pedigree Pets, you will find them at every show.
If you want to see a particular breed of cat, you will need to go to an All Breed show, or one which includes that breed. If you want to find out about just one breed, you might be best going to a show specifically for that breed. There you will see the most examples of that type of cat. There will probably be a stand for the breed society, so you can ask about the breed, find out about obtaining kittens, and maybe even become a member if you wish. You will also find that cat owners and breeders are usually friendly people, so if you see a person who is obviously an owner at the pen with their cat, it is quite acceptable to approach them and ask about the breed. If the person concerned is a breeder they may even be able to tell you about getting a kitten. Generally you will not be able to touch the cats due to the risk of infection, but there is no harm in asking, and sometimes owners are willing to let you stroke their cats. But if they refuse, please don't get upset. Infections spread easily at cat shows, and many owners do not like visitors to touch their cats – and not all cats enjoy being stroked be everyone!
Cat shows vary, but most of them will have shops selling cat food, and also stalls selling cat related items such as beds, cat climbing trees, grooming equipment, and so on. Sometimes these are items which it is difficult to obtain elsewhere. You will also probably see stalls selling items for cat owners – jewellery, bags, clothing with cat motifs, etc. There will also probably be at least one tombola with prizes, and most likely a raffle too. So cat shows can be great fun for any cat lover who also enjoys shopping.
The main judging will have taken place in the morning, before visitors are allowed into the hall. Exhibitors will have arrived very early and set up their pens, giving their cats a last minute groom and cuddle. Then, during the day, rosettes will go up on the pens, so you can see which cats have won their classes. The different classes are quite complicated, but exhibitors will probably be quite happy to explain it all to you if you wish. Then later in the afternoon comes the exciting finale – judging of Best in Show. The winning cat from each variety - Persian, Semi Longhair, British, Siamese, and so on – will be taken up to a pen on the stage (or at one end of the show hall), and they will be judged against each other to receive the rosette for Best in Show. Winning this is of course every exhibitor's dream! After this the show is likely to be declared as closed, and everyone will start to pack up, ready to take their cats home.
There is one show in the year which is rather different from all the others. The Supreme Cat Show – often called the Crufts of the Cat World – is held every autumn at the NEC, near Birmingham. For this show the cats are judged in rings rather than at their pens, and visitors can watch. Pens are decorated, and there is a competition for the Best Decorated Pen on a theme, which is chosen each year. It is a large event, and there will be correspondingly more shops and stalls, and also talks about cats and cat ownership. This is usually a great day out for everyone.
Want to find out more? There is a list of cat shows on the GCCF website, and there will be details of the Supreme Cat Show too. So it is usually quite easy to find one relatively close to your home, and pay it a visit.