Perhaps you have visited cat shows in the past and admired the gorgeous pedigree cats – the fluffy Persians, elegant Siamese, and some newer breeds which you hadn't even heard of before. Maybe you have wished you could show your cat too. But it isn't any particular breed; it's just a common or garden moggie. So you can't show it, can you?
Well yes, you can! Almost all cat shows have a section for non-pedigrees, known for show purposes as Household Pets. They also have a Pedigree Pet section, for half-pedigrees, cats which look like a particular breed but have no papers, and cats in similar situations. If he or she is suitable, your cat might do really well in these shows.
So what type of cats should you show? Some cats really don't like going to shows, and this applies as much to pedigree cats as to household pets. If your cat is shy or timid, or it doesn't like new places or being handled, it is not likely to enjoy being shown, and it wouldn't be fair to take it to cat shows. Similarly if your cat gets travel sick it wouldn't be wise to subject it to a lot of car journeys. And if it tends to lash our or bite, that is of course an absolute no-no!
However, if your cat is friendly and confident and takes new situations in its stride, it could do really well. Household pets are not judged on their looks, but on presentation and temperament. This means that a very ordinary looking short haired moggie which is beautifully groomed, friendly, and outgoing may do better than a gorgeous-looking long haired prima donna type of cat which doesn't like being handled by different people. So if your cat seems like a suitable show cat, why not give it a try...
There is a list of all cat shows in the UK on the website of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). For each show you will find a link to the schedule and the entry form, which needs to be filled in and sent off well in advance of the show. Read the schedule carefully. You are looking for the Household Pet section, which will be right at the end of the schedule. Household Pet cats are divided into classes according to colour, so make sure you enter your cat in the correct class. You will probably also have the option of entering several miscellaneous or side classes. These do not count towards titles, but they are a great deal of fun, and sometimes there is a class for a cat which has never been shown before, so be sure to enter that as thee will be less competition.
If you can't understand the schedule, or aren't sure of something, do phone or email the Show Manager and ask. Most people are very helpful to someone going to their first show – we've all been there!
As explained above, cats need to be presented well, so you will need to groom your cat, particularly if it is long haired. Most cats benefit from being bathed before a show, but if your cat is short haired and doesn't like the idea of a bath, you could perhaps skip this step for his or her first show. You will need to make sure your cat's ears and eyes are clean, and of course make sure he doesn't have fleas or any other parasites. You also need to clip the tips of his front claws. If you haven't done this before, get your vet to show you how, as it isn't difficult. And make sure your cat's vaccinations are all up to date.
You will also need a white blanket, white litter tray, and white water bowl for your cat to use at the show. It is best to obtain these in advance, though you can usually buy them at shows, particularly large ones.
On the Big Day you will need to be up early, as “vetting in” - the process of seeing the show vet to ensure all cats are healthy – takes place quite early. Take your cat in with his carrier, see the vet, and then take your cat to his pen. You might want to give him a final groom, and maybe some food, although you will have to take the food away before the exhibitors are told to leave the hall for the judging.
The judging takes place during the morning, and after a couple of hours you will be allowed back into the hall. Now is the time to cuddle your cat, and reassure him if necessary. Soon after this the results will begin to be put up on the board. You may find your cat has won a rosette for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, and perhaps even a Master Cat certificate. So what do these all mean?
As you may know, pedigree cats can become “Champions” or in the event of neutered cats they become “Premiers”. There is a similar system for Household Pets, but they become “Master Cats”. So if your cat should win his main colour class, he will get a Master Cat certificate. If he gets three of these at three shows under three different judges, he will then be given the title of Master Cat. At shows after this he will then compete against other Master Cats for the title of Grand Master Cat; then Imperial Grand Master Cat. There are titles even beyond this, but let's leave those for the time being.
Ideally your cat will win something, perhaps at least one of the side classes, and you will have at least one rosette to take home, maybe more. Perhaps it will be the start of a show career for your moggie and an enthralling new hobby for you. But as most of us show veterans know, winning doesn't really matter that much. Hopefully both you and your cat will have a lovely day out, an opportunity to meet some cat-minded people and perhaps make new friends, and a chance to see many other lovely cats. And whatever anyone else thinks, you know that you will always take the best cat in the show home with you!