Ready… Set … Show!

By Judith Scarbrough reprinted, in part, with permission from CATS Magazine, July 1982.

Perhaps you have heard about cat shows in your vicinity; maybe you have attended a show as a spectator. But did you ever consider entering your cat in a show? Unless your cat is extremely shy and very easily frightened, chances are that he could win something. And even if he doesn’t, there are always a score of interesting sights and people at shows. So don’t be afraid to give it a try because you have no idea of what to expect or what you should take with you.

The following should help prepare you for almost anything which might happen:

  • How do I enter a cat show?
  • How do I complete a CFA Entry Form
  • Transporting your cat to the show
  • What are “show curtains”?
  • What can I put inside my cat’s cage?
  • Which grooming supplies will I need?
  • Do I have to clip claws?
  • What else do I need to bring?
  • What should I expect at a cat show?

Entering Your Cat in a Show

Order a copy of the CFA Show Rules and the Show Standards for your breed and study them carefully. The Show Rules contain important facts about entry eligibility, entry procedures and the responsibilities of exhibitors. The standard for each breed provides a guide to the ideal cat and also lists color definitions and disqualifying features.

If possible, first attend a show as a spectator. This will give you an idea of what to expect and what goes on at a show. Show listings are presented several months in advance on the show calendar. Also listed on the show schedule are show locations, entry fees and the name, address, telephone/fax numbers and often the email address of the entry clerk. Select the show you want to attend. If you are showing in the Household pet division, contact the entry clerk to determine if there will be a Household Pet category. (HHP’s are permitted in most, but not all shows, and need not be registered to be shown.) Request a show flyer and entry form.

The official CFA Entry Form must be completed for each cat entered in the show. The CFA Entry Form is available as a PDF form as well as an online form. (see also How to Complete a CFA Entry Form) Some clubs will offer a lower “early bird” entry fee and others may not. All shows have a specified closing date for entries, and your entry should be sent in a least a week prior to this date. Some shows also have a limit on the number of entries that can be accepted. Once you have determined which show you will attend, send in your completed entry form and the entry fee. Make certain you do this before the specified closing date. You should receive a confirmation that your entry has been received. If you don’t, call the entry clerk to verify that your cat is indeed entered in the show prior to travelling to the showhall. When the show time comes, take the official show flyer with you and allow ample travel time prior to check-in.

Transporting Your Cat to the Show

First, you need something to transport your cat to and from the show. One of the best pet carriers is an airline carrier, used to house animals in transit. These carriers are sturdy, easy to clean, have adequate ventilation, and come in various sizes to accommodate a variety of animals. Airline type carriers are available in pet shops or by mail order. Most feline oriented magazines carry ads for this item. You can also get cardboard carriers from your veterinarian or humane society. Although cardboa rd carriers are better than carrying the cat in your arms, cats have been known to escape from this type of carrier, so make sure it is closed securely, but leaving adequate ventilation, of course. Other types of carriers are also available, and range in price from a few dollars to several hundred.

Show Curtains

The next essential item is show curtains. These are used to line the inside of your cat’s cage. They prevent him from seeing his neighbors in the adjoining cages, and thus create an atmosphere less conducive to verbal and physical altercations. The ideal curtains are cut to fit the size of the cage (the cage size should be included on the show announcement) and are made of one piece of material. If you have neither the time nor the inclination to make your own curtains, bath towels and safety pins will do nicely, provided you take the time to fasten them to the cage properly.

The curtains can be used to show off your cat. For example, for a pure white cat, curtains of deeper hues (perhaps to match his eyes) would accentuate his color, whereas white curtains will make him appear washed out. The material should be sturdy and easy to clean. If you really want to use silk or velvet show curtains, by all means do so, but more work and more difficult maintenance is involved.

Other Cage Items

Once you have put up your show curtains and prior to placing the cat in his cage, consider your cat’s personality and add items which might make him feel at home; his favorite toy, a shelf to lie on, or a pillow or bed for reclining. Last, before placing your cat in the cage, add his favorite dinnerware. The show will provide litter, and may provide food but it is wise to bring your own litter pan and food. You know what your cat likes to eat better than anyone else. But don’t worry if he doesn’t eat; he is probably just nervous and will eat heartily when he is back home.

Grooming Supplies

Naturally, you want your cat to look his best during judging, so a comb or brush is essential to touch up the grooming you give at home. Combs generally are more effective with longhaired pets; brushes or chamois with the shorthaired. The comb is also handy for removing liter or toilet accidents from the cat’s britches. Claw clippers are also a good thing to have along, especially to loan to people who have forgotten theirs.

Clipping Claws

Claws should be clipped before leaving for the show. Show rules demand it, and cats whose claws have not been clipped may be refused entry. When you clip your cat’s claws, be sure to clip them as far down as possible without cutting the quick (the pink area visible toward the base of the nail): don’t remove just the extreme tip of the nail. And be sure to clip the nails on the back feet as they are just as likely to do physical damage to yourself or the judge. If you are unsure as to the methodology of cat nail clipping, ask your veterinarian.

Miscellaneous Items

There are any number of miscellaneous items which you may find useful to have on hand, such as: pen and index cards, to replace cage sign which your cat has been munching on; paper clips, to wire shut a loose door (pipe cleaners are great for this) or to use for hanging signs; newspapers or carpet samples and paper bags, for lining the cage and disposing of trash; articles about your breed (if it’s a purebred); and aspirin for you. Finally, you will need an inexpensive suitcase to carry everything.

What to Expect at a Cat Show

It is prudent to arrive at the showhall at least an hour before the announced start of judging hours. When you arrive, check in with the entry clerk, where you will receive a cage number and benching row designation. Then locate your cage and set it up as outlined previously; after that, check the judging schedule and locate each ring so that you won’t be the cause of an embarrassing delay or possibly, completely missing judging of your cats class.

There is a lot of time spent between judging, when you can enjoy touring the show yourself, seeing all the different breeds and talking with their owners. It’s always a good idea to ask your neighbor to watch after your cat when you’re away from the benching cage. Do not hesitate to ask questions; if the exhibitors are not busy at the ring or grooming their cats, they will be happy to discuss their cats with you.

So, if you have been considering entering a show, “DO IT” with all the necessary items on hand and some foreknowledge of what you’ll be doing. A cat show is fun, educational, and most gratifying as those ribbons and trophies accumulate.