Would you like to Show your Cat ?
Before showing your cat it is a good idea to visit a show to see what is involved. There are shows held almost every weekend and you can find information in cat magazines or by contacting the GCCF Office.
The public are normally admitted in the middle of the day until closing time at about 5pm. The cats are all placed in wire pens with a white blanket to sit on - often hiding a hot water bottle or an ice pack to keep them comfortable. The cats are all in similar surroundings so that they cannot be identified by the judges.
The judges move round the hall with their stewards, taking the cats out of their pens one at a time to be judged; you will recognise them by their badges and white coats. Judges do not normally speak to the exhibitors or the public until they have finished their judging. The results are written into a book and slips from the books appear on the results board later in the day; you will see the boards surrounded by exhibitors excitedly searching for their cats' placings.
The pens are in rows usually starting with the Persians in pen number 1 and ending with the Siamese. The non pedigree cats may be in a different part of the hall. The show will have a catalogue which will give you information about the cats, their breeds and colours and will also have advertisements put in by the breeders so if you are thinking of buying a kitten it will be very useful. Many shows have notices or leaflets to help you find your way around.
There is one very special show held at the NEC, Birmingham each year in November where cats that have won the top prizes at other shows can compete for the title of 'Supreme'; this is the Supreme Cat Show. Here the cats will all be exhibited in large decorated pens and will be taken to special rings to be judged. If you are lucky the judge may give a commentary on the judging while you are watching.
Should I show my cat ?
This does need careful consideration. The most important thing to decide is if your cat will enjoy the show because shows are meant to be enjoyed by the cats as well as their owners. Some cats are shy and nervous and a show would be an ordeal for them; a show cat needs an unflappable and friendly disposition. This is particularly important if you are showing a non-pedigree cat as one of the main criteria upon which they are judged is temperament. Cats are best introduced to showing as kittens so that they can get used to the idea before they get too set in their ways. Great care is taken at shows to reduce the risk of infection to a minimum but there is always a very slight chance that your beloved cat could become ill after a show - is it worth it?
If you have a pedigree cat you should also decide if your cat is 'good enough' to be shown. Take advice from the breeder and any other experienced person you know. If you have no one to ask contact the GCCF and ask for the 'phone number of the secretary of your local cat club; talk to them and join the club too so that you will start making friends with people who show.
How to enter your cat in a show
Once you have decided to have a go you will need to embark on a little light reading! Far better to know the rules than to find that you have broken them and are in trouble. This could result in your cat being disqualified.
First send to the GCCF for a Show List and a copy of the Rules, decide on a show and write to the show manager, enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope, for a schedule and entry form. You need to do this about three months before the show and while you are waiting sit down and read the rules, especially Section 4 which is called 'Exhibits and Exhibitors'. When the schedule arrives read that through carefully; you will find information about any extra club rules, explanations about the different types of classes, a list of classes as well as the time to arrive, the equipment you will need and the name and telephone number of the Show Manager. If you have any queries about the entry form or the show use that phone number to ask advice.
Tackling the entry form can be a bit daunting so give yourself plenty of time. If you have a pedigree cat you need to get out your GCCF registration or transfer certificate - if you find the pink slip you were given by your cat's breeder is headed 'APPLICATION FOR THE TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP OF REGISTERED CATS' this means that the cat is not registered in your name and you must complete the form and send it back to the GCCF with the transfer fee as soon as possible - no later than 21 days before the show. If you have no GCCF paperwork contact the person you bought the cat from and if you get no help from them telephone the GCCF office for advice. You will see that the entry form asks for information about you and your cat. First fill in your name and address - the Exhibitor must be the registered owner of the cat 21 days before show day. It may be you or you and a partner - you must fill in the details of both people if it is jointly owned. Next the details of your cat are needed and these should be copied from your GCCF papers:
Registration Number - Cat's Name - Breed number - Sex - Date of birth
Name of sire - Name of dam - Name of breeder - Classes to be entered.
If your cat has not yet been registered or the certificate has not been returned from GCCF put RAF or TAF (reg/transfer applied for) in place of the registration number and make sure you do apply!
The name of the cat and the other details will be on the GCCF certificate or failing this on your pedigree. Always take a copy of your form so that you can check it against your official paperwork when it arrives AND tell the Show manager IN WRITING of any mistakes. If your cat is a non pedigree of course there is no official information to put on the form but all the other points are important for you as well. Details for non-pedigree cats usually comprise:-
Name Sex (N.B. ALL non-pedigree cats over the age of 9 months MUST have been neutered in order to be shown) Approximate age (as at the date of the show NOT date of entry) Colour Coat length (SH - short hair, LH - long hair but usually covers both long and semi-longhair).
Decide on the correct classes - if you cat is an adult neuter you can only enter neuter classes and you should enter its sex as MN or FN. If in doubt about classes check. Non-pedigree "Open" Classes are usually divided into Adult (neutered cat over 9 months old) or Kitten (under 9 months old). Adult classes are divided by colour and sometimes coat length as well, kittens are usually in only one, or sometimes two classes divided by age, although some shows also divide all kittens by colour as well. Once you have decided on the correct Open Class (there is only one per cat) you can then pick which of the "Side" (*Miscellaneous) classes you wish to enter from those your cat is eligible for. Next work out your entry fees, make out your cheque and make sure that it is signed and correct. On the form you will find a declaration that you and your partner, if the cat is jointly owned, must read and sign. Finally double check everything before you post it.
If your cat is neutered after you have entered it as entire, or if it changes colour or pattern and has to be re-registered, contact the Show Manager immediately. Although it may be too late to alter the catalogue, it should be possible for the cat to be moved to its correct class and to alter the judges books accordingly. Even if the alteration does not mean a change of class you should still inform the Show Manager: an incorrect description could lead to the cat being disqualified or marked down by the judge.
Your cat must be fit and well to go to a show. No fleas, no ear mites, no runny eyes, no bare or scabby patches of skin, no snuffles and sneezes and all vaccinations up to date. If in doubt see your Vet. Do remember to clean ears and eyes and trim the sharp tips of the claws with proper clippers. Do not cut anything but the tip or you will damage the skin and make your cat bleed.
Make sure that you have a good TOP OPENING box or basket to take to the show. You will also need a clean plain white blanket, a non tip water bowl, a feeding bowl and litter tray - all white. (The litter itself need not be white.) Take a cloth to wipe out the pen, you can use a little disinfectant suitable for cats on the cloth but you must not spray the pen. If the show requires our cat to wear a tally, you will also need a piece of white tape or fine elastic to put it round its neck. It is important to get your cat used to this before the show.
Check that your cat is vaccinated up to date and that the vaccination certificate describes the cat correctly: it should show the cat's full name as well as its correct breed, colour, sex and age. If it has the breeder's name and address on it you should add your own name and address. You will need to show this certificate at vetting-in.
You must ensure that the vaccination certificate has the name of your cat on it, and this must correspond with the show entry. It is in order to put both the pedigree name and pet name if preferred.
When you arrive at the show hall follow the signs to Vetting In where you will probably find a queue of exhibitors. Look for a notice which will tell you of any last minute judge changes - if you are showing an adult with one or more challenge certificates you can ask the Show Manager to arrange for a countersignature if the change would duplicate an existing certificate. Paperwork at shows varies but you will be given some form of vetting in card for the vet to sign, have this, and your vaccination certificate, ready to give to the vet. If you have prepared your cat carefully all should be well; if unhappily your cat is refused entry to the show make sure that the Duty Vet explains why your cat has been rejected and what you must do next.
Once inside the hall find your pen and get your cat settled in, judging normally starts at 10am so you should have time to offer a little food if your cat is hungry but you must take the bowl out before judging, leaving only the water bowl. It often pays to keep the best blanket until the last minute or you may find it covered with the contents of the litter tray.
Always check your pen before you leave the hall to make sure it is clean and tidy. When you leave the hall you will be able to buy your catalogue - check your entry details carefully and go to the Show Manager at once if anything is incorrect. When you return to the hall check your cat and feed it if you wish. You may also now gve it a small toy to play with. If you have not already done so, find the results boards to see how well your cat has done. Results slips will go up throughout the day and some Open class results may appear quite late if that Judge has many to judge, so do not be too impatient. However, if your Open class has not appeared by 3pm you should ask at the show manager's table in case it has been overlooked or mislaid. Other classes will appear later, sometimes right up to the close of the show.
Once you get home make sure your cat is comfortable; it will have been a hard day for you all. It is wise not to allow all your cats to mix with the show cat for a few days until any danger of infection is past, if this is possible without upsetting the cat.
You can spend the next few days congratulating your pet whether it won or not!