Taking a cat or kitten to a show for the first time can be quite daunting. You may have deciphered the schedule, worked out how to fill in the entry form, and prepared your cat so that she looks her best. But what happens when you actually get there? I remember being very nervous at my first show. I had a six month old kitten with me, and someone asked me if it was his first show. I replied that it was, and it was also mine, and I really wasn't sure what to do. Here we take a look at what to expect when you arrive at a cat show, and what will happen during the day.
When you arrive, the first thing you will need to do is join a queue to see the vet, who will check that your cat is healthy. They will also want to see your cat's vaccination certificate, so make sure you have brought it with you. The vet will check your cat for fleas and worms, and any obvious signs of illness. He or she may also check your cat's claws, so make sure you have clipped the ends off both front and back claws. If all goes well, they will then let you enter the show hall.
On arrival you will have been given a slip with your cat's pen number on it, so take your cat to the designated pen. It is a good idea to wipe over the inside of the pen with some antiseptic wipes or similar, as pens are not always that clean. Now you will need to arrange the pen, with your cat's white blanket, white litter tray and litter, and fill a white water bowl with water. If you have forgotten to bring any of these items, don't panic; it is usually possible to buy them at the show.
When you have everything ready, let your cat our of her carrier into the pen. You can feed her at this point too if you wish. I usually find it is a good idea to only give dried food at a show, so that the cat cannot make a mess of her fur or blanket, but it's really up to you. Most people give their cat a last minute groom at this stage as well, and you can check her eyes and ears. Hopefully you will have arrived early enough to do all this in a leisurely fashion so that both you and your cat can stay calm. Some people leave everything until the last minute, but I reckon it's worth getting up a little earlier, and having time to do everything carefully.
At about 10 am, there will be an announcement that everyone has to leave the show hall, for the judging to take place. You will need to remove your cat's food now, if you have not done so already. Make sure all cat carriers and other bags are under your pen, so that everything around your pen is tidy. You can now queue up to collect your catalogue, if you have pre-ordered one. If not, make sure you buy one so that you can check that your cat is in the correct classes. After that you will have a couple of hours free before you are allowed back into the hall. Many people leave the building, perhaps to go shopping. Some stay there, particularly if there is a cafe or similar, which is often the case. At some shows you can look at stalls around the edge of the hall during the judging, and maybe buy some cat related items. Shows do vary, so find out what you are allowed to do.
The time at which you can return to the hall will be noted in the schedule, but is usually around 12.30 pm. At this point, it is good to go and see your cat, make sure she is happy, and maybe feed her again. Her main class will have been judged, but not the side classes, so you might want to give her another little groom and tidy up as well. After that you can do exactly as you wish – sit with your cat, look at other cats, get to know people, go round the stalls, and so on. I find it is useful to have a folding chair with me, so that I can sit with my cat in comfort, but again, this is up to you. The public will come to visit the show at this time, and they may want to take a look at your cat. And of course you will want to find out your cat's results.
The results of each class will be posted throughout the day, on a results board which will be somewhere outside the show hall itself. Ask someone if you cannot find it. Look for the number of your cat's class to find out if she has been placed First, Second, or Third. During the day rosettes will be distributed for the winners of each class, and these will be hung on the cats' pens, or sometimes placed on the top of the pen.
About mid-afternoon, the cats who have won the Best of Variety awards, ie best Persian, best Semi-Longhair, best Siamese, and so on, will be judged for the Best Cat in Show award. These cats will be taken to the front of the hall, placed in special pens, and judged against each other. This might be something you would enjoy watching, although it's not compulsory, and some people stay with their own cats. Of course, there is a chance your cat may be taking part in this, and if that happens, feel free to ask what you need to do. Then the cat who has won the Best in Show will be announced, usually to much clapping and many congratulations.
Soon after this is finished, the Show Manager will probably announce that the show is closing. At this point you can start to pick everything up, put your cat back in her carrier, and get ready to go home. Hopefully both you and your cat will have had an enjoyable day, and you can both look forward to repeating the experience at your next show. And you may well find that you have started a new and absorbing hobby.