There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to showing your cat. There are shows all over the country, so something is going on most weekends in some area of the country. But one of the things many people don't realise in the beginning is that there are three main organisations arranging shows, at least in the UK All of them arrange their shows a little differently, and some people find that either they or their cats prefer one type of show to another. So let us take a look at the different organisations and how their cat shows work in practice.
The GCCF, or Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, is the largest cat registry in the UK, and was established in 1910. It registers pedigree cats, and more recently it has also become possible to register non-pedigree cats if you wish to show them. The GCCF organises cat shows all over the country, culminating in the Supreme Cat Show in October every year – often thought of as the feline equivalent of Crufts. Most people start of showing cats through the GCCF, but it is not necessary to do this if you do not want to.
TICA, or The International Cat Association, was formed in 1979 in the USA. Its aim was to be more flexible and progressive than the traditional cat associations which existed in many countries by then. TICA now has members and organises shows in countries around the world.
FIFe, or the Federation Internationale Feline, was founded in 1949 in France, and now has members and organises shows in 40 countries. FIFe emphasises healthy, happy cats, and aims to concentrate on health and welfare. In the UK, the FIFe member is Felis Britannica, formed in 2003, and they organise all the UK FIFe shows.
If you want to show your cat with the GCCF, that cat has to be registered with the organisation. But both TICA and FIFe are more flexible about this, at lest in the beginning. You can attend one of their shows without having registered with them, although you will have to do so eventually, and it will be necessary to do so before your cat can claim any awards or titles which it has gained. Both have slightly different rules on this, so you will need to make sure you stick to them if you do decide to show with either organisation.
GCCF shows are fairly regimented. Your cat is kept in a pen all day, and the owners have to leave the show hall when the judging is taking place, usually for around two to three hours. Judging takes place at the pen, and there are specific rules as to what you can have in the pen with the cat. The cat is judged in one main class, and several smaller 'side' classes, so there is quite a lot of time after the judging to spend with your cat, socialise, and so on.
TICA and FIFe shows, on the other hand, are much more informal. At TICA shows, judging takes place in rings, and the pen is really the cat's and it's owner's private space. So you can be with your cat all the time, decorate its pen how you like, and provide your cat with food and toys whenever you wish. At a TICA show your cat will be entered in several classes in several different rings, almost like a few shows in one. So you do have to be on the ball, and it can sometimes feel as though you are rushing with your cat from one show ting to the next. FIFe shows are different from either of the above, but are also quite informal. The cat will be entered in fewer classes than is usually the case in a TICA show, so it is a little more relaxed.
With both TICA and FIFe, you can arrange for someone to show your the ropes at your first show, which can be quite helpful. Actually, this is also the case for GCCF shows, but it seems not to be advertised so widely.
If your cat does not like being left alone, you might be better off at a TICA or a FIFe show, as you can be with her almost all day if you wish. For this reason many owners prefer this type of show. But, perhaps strangely, some cats do not! One of my cats hated TICA shows; he did not like being constantly carried to different rings, and he hated the proximity of other cats when he was being carried around. He seemed to prefer the regimentation and comparative peace and quiet of a GCCF show. So the decision may depend on your cat as much as you.
It may also depend on where you live and how far you are prepared to travel. There are many more GCCF shows than either TICA or FIFe shows in the UK, sop you may have to travel a long way to go to either of these. On the other hand, GCCF shows are usually only one day, and the other organisations frequently have two-day shows, so it could make your travelling worthwhile. Indeed, In TICA cats can sometimes gain several titles over the course of a two-day show.
Cats, and cat owners, are all different. It may be worth trying all the different types of shows to see which ones you and your cat prefer. You can even go to those run by different registries on a regular basis, if you have the time and money and want to. But remember that the GCCF will need to be notified if you go to either GCCF or FIFe shows, and you will need to abide by the '13 day rule', ie you cannot take any of the cats in your household to shows more frequently than every two weeks. This is merely a safety precaution to prevent spread of infection. So good luck, whichever shows you decided to enter, and do enjoy your cat's show career.