What Judges Look For at a Cat Show
By Cassidy Williams
You know that your cat is the handsomest, most graceful feline in the world, with the quirkiest personality. Have you ever considered taking him to a show to let others judge for themselves? Even if your favorite pet has neither pedigree nor registration, he may be eligible for many cat shows. Here are some of the things the judges are looking for at those shows.
Various organizations sponsor cat shows all over the country. A few of the larger ones are these: TICA, The International Cat Association; CFA, Cat Fancier's Association; ACFA, American Cat Fancier's Association; and AACE, American Association of Cat Enthusiasts. Each organization hires and trains its own judges.
To become a judge, one must have been in the cat business for many years. Show staff are comprised mainly of long-time breeders. Judges have worked in any and all aspects of cat shows. Once they've gained experience as entry clerk, ring clerk, manager or committee member, show staff can graduate to judging. By this time the individual has attended hundreds of shows as both breeder and staff, and is therefore qualified to judge on the various breeds.
There are several categories at any cat show. Most will have three separate divisions: kittens, altered, unaltered and household pets. Kittens are between four and eight months old, pedigreed and not fixed. Among the pedigreed, registered adults, there are separate categories for those who are neutered or spayed (altered) and those who are not. Finally, there is the household pet section, in which any handsome cat can qualify!
The judges have books which describe the standards for each breed. The standard is the ideal for each type of cat. The job of the judges is to pick the cat which most closely represents that ideal. Each cat is judged according to a point system. Condition and appearance of the various parts of the body are taken into consideration, as are color and pattern of the coat. The total number of points comprises the cat's score.
Judges at cat shows are not given any information about ownership of the cat, or whether or not a particular animal has won any competitions. This includes other parts of the competition at which they are currently officiating. This insures that the judges are not influenced by the cat's past performance. Instead of using names or owner's names, each pet is given a number for identification in the ring.
In addition to beauty and grace, cat show judges are looking for a good temperament and grooming. A cat who will calmly allow a judge to handle it will do better than one which fights and squirms. Many cats are so calm that they actually fall asleep during the show! Owners are encouraged to wake their cats prior to judging so that they will appear alert.
Owners are given the opportunity to do some last minute brushing and primping before their cats go into the ring. Make sure your pet looks its best at that crucial moment! Even if he's not being judged by breed standards, a clean and healthy appearance will improve his chances!
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