Showing a cat or kitten, whether it is a pedigree cat or an ordinary moggie or ‘household pet’, as they are called in cat show terminology, is not that difficult. But there are a number of things that need to be done, and it can all seem very daunting for the beginner. Here are some hints and tips on how to prepare and what you need to do before the show itself.
This is the first question you need to ask. Some cats love cat shows. This is particularly true of laid-back breeds like the Persian and Ragdoll, or friendly extraverts like the Maine Coon and some moggies. But the cat needs to confident, be happy in new situations, be willing to be handled by new people, and not object to being in a pen all day. A crowded cat show is no place for a shy cat, or one which wants to be out hunting all day. If your cat would not like this sort of thing at all, it might be better not to show it in the first place. But if you think it might, then read on...
Schedules for cat shows are published a few months before the shows, and you first need to obtain the schedule. There is a list of cat shows on the website of the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy), and you can download the schedule from there too. Read the whole schedule carefully. It may seem a little daunting, but it should provide the answer to all your questions. However, if you’re really confused and don’t have a friend to ask, you can always phone the show manager; they are usually very helpful to show novices. In fact, some shows will provide someone to help a new person on their arrival at the show, so it could be worth asking about this. Make sure you know what classes your cat is eligible for, and then decide which of them to enter. Usually you can enter one main class and two or three miscellaneous or side classes – but make sure this is the case at your chosen show.
You need to fill in the entry form carefully, taking the name and all the details from the cat’s pedigree certificate and/or ownership transfer form if it is a pedigree cat. You should make sure that you have the cat’s name exactly right, and also its breed number. Mistakes can usually be rectified afterwards, but it is much easier if you get everything right first time around. For a household pet you just use the cat's pet name. There is less to do overall and it is a little easier, but again, you should fill in the form carefully. And don’t forget to sign it – my favourite mistake!
You must make sure the cat’s vaccinations will be up to date on show day; this is very important or the cat will be disqualified. The cat should be wormed and de-flead well in advance. For fleas, spot-on preparations like Frontline or Advantage are best, as they will last for several weeks. However, do not use them within a few days of the show, as they could affect the condition of your cat’s coat. There are now spot-on preparations for worms as well, and these are very simple to use.
Most seasoned cat show people will tell you that bathing the cat is mandatory. However, it depends on the breed, and many short-haired cats with no need a bath. Also, some cats will simply not tolerate being bathed, and in this case there are alternatives. You can use waterless foam shampoo, which simply needs to be towel dried, and/or cat wipes which can be obtained from good pet stores. A combination of these over several days will usually produce results nearly as good as bathing the cat. So you might want to try that, at least for the cat's first show.
You will need to clip the cat’s front claws, to ensure it cannot scratch the judges. You should only take off the very tip of the claws, and if you haven’t done it before, it is best to ask a vet or experienced owner to show you how. The cat will need to be groomed thoroughly. How much grooming is required will depend upon the breed, with long haired cats and the semi-longhairs needing more thorough grooming. You should also check that eyes and ears are clean.
Cats which are allowed out should be kept in, so that last minute preparations can take place. However, at this point there should be very little to do beyond last minute grooming, perhaps using dry shampoo if necessary, a thorough check of eyes and ears…and an early night for you as you will have an early start on cat show day.
Make sure everything is packed for the show. You will need a white blanket, white litter tray, and white water bowl for the cat's pen. It is often possible to buy these at the show, but far better to obtain them in advance. Of course, make sure you have the cat's vaccination certificate, and also take some food for the cat. And make sure the cat carrier is ready and easily accessible.
Both you and your cat are likely to be up early, as 'vetting in', ie taking the cat to the vet at the show to check that it is healthy, normally takes place before about 9.00 am. However, if you have planned everything well in advance there should be no rush, and hopefully the day will be free of stress for everyone.
And then…good luck with the showing. You may not understand completely how it all works the first time, but you will soon figure it out, and hopefully have found yourself a new and absorbing hobby.