Full of excitement, you're standing in the parking lot of the show hall, gathering all the things you need to bring. Today will be your first day in a cat show with your furry friend.
You pick up the following from the boot of your car:
Confirmation letter from the show (nowadays electronic)
Show cage, or curtains for show cage
Litter box and scoop, plus a few bags
Water and food bowls, cat food
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant
Brushes and combs
Cat inside transport crate
Then bravely towards the entrance. Cat shows usually have people at the door checking vaccinations. Next, you'll be directed to a vet's inspection and/or to sign in. If you get to go to the vet's inspection, they will ask you to put the cat on the table. The vet checks the cat's overall condition, eyes, ears, teeth, and behind. Random fungal tests are also taken on the vet table. The results are mailed to the cat's owner in about 2-3 weeks. When everything is in order with the inspection, you can proceed to sign in.
After this it's time to find your cage spot where you'll set up camp for the duration of the show. Many of the rows in the shows are organised by category. Somewhere in there are Category II cats, which also includes Neva Masquerades and Siberian cats. Sometimes the cage spots are numbered. At other times you get to pick your own spot.
You assemble your own cage at the designated spot. Don't forget that the size of a single cat cage is not to exceed 65x65x65cm. If you have a double cage (eg. double Sturdi), it can house 2-3 cats. If you have curtains instead of a canvas cage, the organisers will have placed a metal cage ready at your spot. Just add the litter box into the cage, and now your cat can settle in comfortably.
FI*Little Priin Elite Queen in cat show with Heli Holma
At this stage, you can breathe more easily and maybe go for a cup of coffee. Of course, you have arrived well in time, and the judging won't commence for a while. After a coffee break, it's good to check the location of your judge and how many cats are scheduled to be judged before yours. And then you wait, and follow the judging, admire your competitors' cats, and occasionally check how your own cat is doing in the cage. All this, of course, in nervous excitement.
You should go get your own cat ready when some 2-3 cats are still lined up before your turn. It's worth asking the breeder for advice on finishing grooming touches as well as for washing the cat before the show. The better your groundwork at home, the easier the finishing touches before judging. The breeder will be glad to help prepare the cat for judging and with any fur-related problems. If the breeder is not there, you can always find help from the breed ring; there's no need to fret alone.
Finally your cat is all groomed and ready for judging. There's just one cat on the judging table before yours. So take your cat and wait for your turn somewhere by the judging table. Your palms are sweaty, your heart's racing nervously. This is all okay; now just take a deep breath and relax. This way your anxiety isn't transferred into the cat. You lift your cat onto your arms in show position and wait for your turn.
And next the judge invites you to the table. They examine and observe the cat. A show cat needs to be easy to handle. After inspecting the cat for a while, the judge writes their review on a grading slip. A general principle is that you shouldn't really converse with the judge. They might tell you what they think of your cat, though. If there are more than 3 cats in the same colour group, the judge will also pick the Best-of-Colour out of these. When the judge has graded all the cats in a category, they let their assistant know which cats should come to the selection of Judge's Favourite. In the Judge's Favourites selection, the judge picks the best adult male, best female, best castrated male and female, best young cat (7-10 months), and best kitten (4-7 months), and possibly the best veteran in the category.
In this show, your cat is in the kitten class. This time, the selection for Judge's Favourite includes a Maine Coon kitten, a Norwegian Forest cat kitten, a Siberian cat kitten, and your own kitten, a Neva Masquerade. The judge once more goes over the selected cats and describes their good and poor qualities. This time, the judge picks your kitten as "Judge's Favourite". After this, the wait for the final panel begins.
FI*SoulSibster's BeLoved Best in Show panel presented by an assistant
Photo by Fredrik Åkesson
The panel won't start until all judges have finished their grading. In two-day shows, both days have their own panel. The final panel includes all the cats selected as favourites by all the judges. For each category, there is a separate Best-in-Show panel. The order of the categories varies from show to show, but it is always announced before the panel starts. Within each category, the best adult male, female, castrated male and female, young cat, and kitten in that category are selected. The panel can be cageless or with cages. In a panel with cages, the cats waiting for their turn are taken into a cage (the cage has the cat's number), and the assistant takes the cat into the panel ring, while in a cageless panel the owner brings the cat to the preparation area and directly to the assistant, who takes the cat to be presented to the panel.
The panel begins. First in turn are Category I cats. After that, the panel proceeds at its own pace, and soon it is time for Category II. First they select the best male, female, etc., and finally it's the kittens' turn. You bring your cat, groomed to perfection, to the assistant in the preparation area. Now all you can do is leave the ring and wait anxiously. This time, the panel includes 5 Category II kittens. All judges who judged this category tour around all the cats, and then proceed to write the number of their choice kitten on a voting slip. This time, an American Curl kitten got all the judges' votes.
Your first cat show day is now over and done. Now just grab your cat along and head to the hotel, go out to dine with cat friends in the evening and gather strength for the Sunday show.
Sof`ja Nevskaja Radost and the judge