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Thursday, May 3

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Cat Show Hygiene
By Lindsay Adams

Every so often, I like to conduct a survey among users of this site in an effort to capture meaningful information about the Persian breed and showing practices. In this case, the subject of cat show hygiene has always been of great interest to me, as I know there is much to be feared when it comes to fungus, parasites, and infections.

Recently, I posted a questionnaire to learn more about the measures owners take in order to protect their Persians' health in the show halls. As always, the responses were both intelligent and insightful. Below is a summary of the results.

What illnesses and/or diseases are you the most concerned about your Persian contracting at a cat show?
93% of respondents listed ringworm, making it the number one concern among participants. 50% of respondents mentioned upper respiratory infections, and 36% said parasites, rounding out our top three slots.

What preventative steps do you take?
Here are the most popular precautions, listed in no particular order:

  • Make sure my cats are up-to-date on all vaccinations.
  • Use parasite treatments on a regular basis to prevent fleas, ticks, and mites.
  • Bathe my cats before and after every show. (Recommendation: HealthGuard)
  • Dry my cats throroughly after bathing since fungus loves moisture.
  • Use my own cage in the benching area. (Recommendation: Sturdi Show Shelters with clear window)
  • Keep my cats inside of their cage at all times, unless they are being groomed or taken to the ring for judging.
  • Do not let anyone handle/touch my cats (judges being the obvious exception).
  • Wipe out the ring cage before putting my cat in it.
  • Ensure that the judges clean the table and their hands between judgings.
  • Keep my cats away from other cats in the show hall.
Has your Persian ever contracted an illness/disease from a show? If so, please describe.
29% of participants responded in the affirmative. Their experiences ranged from a minor stomach virus to a serious upper respiratory infection that later resulted in death.

Thankfully, the remaining 71% of respondents claimed that their Persians had never contracted anything at a show.

Do you think the immune system of the Persian breed is stronger, weaker, or about the same as other breeds?
No one voiced the opinion that the Persian immune system is stronger than other breeds. In fact, 36% of respondents felt that the Persian system is actually weaker overall, while 50% felt it was comparable to other breeds. Then there were some who said it really hinges on the Persian's pedigree. For example, one respondent expressed the following opinion:

"It depends on how tight the pedigree of the cat is. Very tightly inbred cats do have lower immune systems than those who have been responsibly bred by breeders with the knowledge of how to do so."

Lastly, there were some people who felt that the immune system is determined by the individual cat more so than the breeding.

Additional thoughts, concerns, or experiences that you would like to include:
There was some disagreement on how thoroughly show cats are inspected. One person lamented:

"There is no one actually checking the cats as they enter the show hall. I realize that this would slow up the check-in process tremendously, but there could be some spot-checking while the cats are benched. In general, unless someone reports something suspicious to the show manager, cats freely come and go from the show hall."

On the other hand, someone else said:

Medical inspections at shows seem very strict, sometimes a bit overdone I think. Cards are examined - I even had a card questioned for not bearing a vet stamp, even though it was signed. I know that the judges all wash their hands between cats, so hygene is about as good as it can be.

Another respondent raised concerns around toys used during judgings. (You know the drill: the judge pulls out a feather teaser and entices the cat to stretch upwards.) This person expressed that it would be nice if each owner could provide the toy for his/her cat's judging in hopes of eliminating contamination via toys.

Final Thoughts
The overall sentiment among owners was that the joys far outweigh the risks when it comes to cat shows. Certainly do everything in your power to protect your cats, but do not let your fears keep you from experiencing all that the world of showing has to offer!