If you are reading this, you are probably considering showing your cat. But perhaps you don't really know what is involved. Is your cat suitable for showing? Would it like being shown, and is this something that you yourself would enjoy? This article takes a brief look at all aspects of cat showing, and what you should think about and ask yourself before deciding to show your cat.
The answer to this is very simple. You can show any kind of cat. It doesn't need to be a pedigree cat, and it doesn't even need to be particularly good looking. Pedigree cats are compared with others of the same breed, and there is a Standard of Points saying what the ideal cat should look like. If you want to enter your cat for these classes, it might be a good idea to find out in advance if your cat is 'good' enough to make it worth trying – although you can always go to one show and see what the judge thinks. But some people like to ask a knowledgeable friend, or at least visit a cat show and try to get an idea if their cat looks like those which win rosettes.
If your pedigree cat doesn't look like the show winners, or you've been told it has a 'fault' in show terms, don't despair. You can enter it as a Pedigree Pet. This category is for cats which aren't quite up to the standard of the show pedigrees, pedigree cats with no official papers, half pedigrees, and similar. Judging is purely on temperament and presentation, and any cat looking like a pedigree can enter.
And if you have a non pedigree, that is, an ordinary moggie? You can enter that kind of cat in the Non Pedigree section, where again, judging is in terms of presentation and temperament, so that even a very ordinary looking pet cat can win. Ex-strays and rescue cats have sometimes done very well, so don't rule out your cat because you don't know its background.
However, not every cat is suitable for showing. Show cats need to be prepared thoroughly – probably bathed, then groomed thoroughly, and have their claws clipped and eyes and ears cleaned. Then they have to travel to the show, be looked at by a vet, kept in a pen all day, and looked at by a number of judges. Some cats thrive on this. Laid back cats who don't get flustered simply take it all in their stride. Very extroverted and friendly cats often love shows; I had a Maine Coon who used to sit at the front of his pen and talk to everybody, and clearly thought the show world was great fun. But for some cats this is pure torture. Even if they cope with being bathed and groomed, they may get car sick, or might simply be very shy and hate being on display all day, with nowhere to hide. If your cat is like this, it probably won't do very well in shows, and it isn't fair to the cat to put it through the experience anyway. So if you have a shy scaredy cat, let it stay home.
Firstly, do you have time to prepare your cat for shows? It doesn't take all that long, but you do have to keep on top of grooming, particularly if your cat has long hair. During the week before the show, you will need to find time to bath your cat and make sure it is in tiptop condition. You will need to have filled in the show entry forms accurately and in good time, and sent off the fees. And while cat shows are not exorbitantly expensive, they aren't all that cheap either. You will need to have acquired a set of 'show whites' – a white blanket, litter tray, and water bowl, to use in your cat's pen. You will probably need to be a car driver, or have a friend or relative who can take you to cat shows by car. It is possible to go to shows by public transport or taxis, and a few people do it, but it certainly isn't easy. Then on show day you will probably need to be up at dawn or earlier, and prepare yourself for a very long day, since you will not be able to leave the show before it closes, usually at 5 pm. And all this for... a rosette or two if you win, and nothing if you don't! Of course, many people love the whole experience – they like to see the other cats, meet other cat mad people, and they enjoy the competitive aspect too. You might feel that way about it. But cat showing is not a hobby for everyone.
You might have decided by now that you really want to show your cat...or maybe that you definitely don't. But perhaps you're still not sure. If the last of those is the case, perhaps the best thing to do is visit a cat show. These are held most weekends in the UK, and there is a list on the GCCF website. Find one close to you, visit it, talk to some people there, and see what you think. Then, if you think you would like to try showing your cat, pick a fairly small show to start with. Try to get help and advice, either from a friend who shows cats, or ask the Show Manager, as some shows will assign someone to help those new to showing.
By the end of the day you should have a pretty good idea as to whether you like cat shows, and – perhaps more importantly – whether your cat enjoys them. If one of you, or both of you, didn't like it, put the day down as an experience, but one which maybe shouldn't be repeated. But if you both had a fun day out, then you have found a new hobby for you, and maybe the beginning of a successful show career for your cat. And if that is the case, then good luck!