What do the Judges Look For?

Being a cat judge can be pretty hard. The judge must know the “standard” for each breed in the show. A “standard” is a list of things about each breed that tells you what the perfect cat of that breed should look like.

For example, the standard will tell you that a Persian should have a head that is round, that the skull structure should be smooth to the touch, and that it has a short nose. In the photo on the right, a judge examines the head of a black Persian by feeling it all over.

There’s a lot to know about each breed, and that’s why we have breed standards which provide detailed descriptions that help the judge to know what to look for in each breed. It helps the judge to know what they are looking for, because just the descriptions of the many different body types will boggle your mind! Some cats are large with a cobby body (Persian), and some are long and stocky (Birman). Others are long but should have svelte bodies (Oriental) or else the standard says they should be rectangular (Maine Coon). Are you confused, yet?

In addition to the standard telling the judge what the body, head, ears, etc. should look like, it also describes each color and pattern. Remember, we took a look at those back when we were discovering the breeds and colors. If you want to refresh your memory, go here.

Who are the judges?

The people that you see judging at cat shows on the weekends are just normal folks during the rest of the week. They are school teachers, secretaries, hair stylists, doctors and lawyers during the week and cat judges on the weekend.

The men and women evaluating the cats at a CFA show are thoroughly trained and well qualified in the art and science of cat judging. CFA judges have shown skill at breeding cats and a flair for exhibiting them. They have also helped their cat clubs to put on shows, and are people that are well known by other breeders and exhibitors.


CFA judges all love cats, and they have great experiences every weekend when they get to handle all of the cats entered in a show – especially when they get to play with all kinds of kittens!

People who want to be judges must have at least ten years of breeding experience before they can apply to the judging program. Once accepted into the program, trainees must pass examinations on breed standards and show ring mechanics, and they must do training sessions with experienced judges.