Many people enjoy showing their cats, whether pedigree cats or household pets. But normal cat shows – that is, those under the auspices of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) - can be very fraught as well as enjoyable. There are many rules to follow, and you usually have to leave your cat in its pen for several hours while judging takes place. Also, if you have a new or unrecognized breed of cat you may not be allowed to show it. So people sometimes wonder if there is another way. Indeed there is. You can try showing with TICA – The International Cat Association.
TICA was formed in 1979 in the USA. It was founded by Georgia Morgan and a handful of cat enthusiasts. Their aim was to build the most progressive, flexible and innovative cat registry in the world. The first international region confirmed outside of North American was Japan, and the first international show was hosted by the ‘All Japan Club’, on March 2nd 1980 in Nagoya, Japan. Since then TICA has grown to have a club and members in all 50 states of the United States, and also in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
TICA cat shows are not nearly as regimented as most shows run by the GCCF in the UK, and by similar organizations in other countries. They particularly aim to have a friendly atmosphere at every show, and to live up to TICA’s motto of “for fabulous felines, fun and friendships.”
Unlike at GCCF shows you do not have to take white blankets, litter trays, and food bowls for your cat to use in its pen. Nor do you have to leave it alone for several hours, which can be very upsetting for a kitten or a nervous cat – and also for the owner. You can set up your cat's pen as you want it, and stay with it the whole time. The cats are judged in rings, rather like at the Supreme Cat Show in the UK, and the owner takes the cat to its ring to be judged. And there are several rings at each show, so a TICA show is almost like several shows rolled into one. So you won’t have time to be bored, and you have several chances to win an award.
You ‘vet in’ as at any cat show – that is, you take your cat to see the show vet to check it has no fleas or any kind of illness. Then you can take your cat to its pen. However, unlike with GCCF shows, you can decorate the pen, or take your cat’s favourite blanket and/or its toys. At most shows there will be a meeting for new TICA entrants to explain to you how it all works, but if not just ask anyone. When I went to my first TICA show I felt very confused, but the show manager came and explained everything to me.
You will be given your cat’s number, and an announcement will be made of when it is to be shown, and in which ring. This is better than at the GCCFG Supreme Show, where you generally don't have a clear idea of when your cat will be going to the ring, and you can spend a lot of time hanging around wondering what is happening. You then carry your cat to the ring. You don’t even need to put it in a carrier if you don’t want to, and a TICA show is full of people carrying cats around in their arms, although obviously this is not suitable for all cats. You put the cat in its pen at the ring; then wait for the judging. This will be very quick, and after that you are free to take the cat back to its original pen with you. You will do this five or six times during the day!
The cats are judged on Best of Colour, Best of Variety, Best of Breed, and then the ten best cats go to an all-breed final. This happens in every ring. You get a certain number of points for first, second, and third, in every category, and your cat needs a certain number of points to become a Champion, a Grand-Champion, and so on. So a cat can even become a Champion at its first show! It all sounds very complicated, and at first it is, but in many ways it is a much more enjoyable system than the conventional ones. At least, this is the case for many cats.
Before you decide to change the way you show your cat, however, and only go to TICA shows, do try one first. There are some disadvantages, both for the owners and for the cats...
Some cats do not like TICA shows. My Maine Coon hated them! He didn't like being carried around in close proximity to other cats, and he wasn't used to ring judging. He spent a lot of time hissing at other cats and getting very annoyed. He seemed to be saying quite plainly, “This is wrong; shows aren't like this, and I don't like it”. He might have got used to them in time, but it didn't look like it.
Because there are several rings, TICA shows are very busy and can seem very confusing. Some people find the whole thing feel just too rushed, and they cannot work out what is happening. Again this may improve as you get used to the system.
Finally, there are not that many TICA shows, and you may have to hunt around to find any within reasonable travelling distances of your home.
All the same, why not try a TICA show for yourself and see if you like it. You don’t even need to register your cat with TICA for its first show; you can just try it out. And some owners, and their cats, prefer the TICA system, and some cats do better at these shows than at GCCF ones. It's all down to individual preference. So just go along and try one for fun…and have a great day out.