Cat Shows 101

Most people know a little about the routine of a dog show: The dogs walk around a ring while a judge watches, scoring each animal on various characteristics. But shows that focus on the felines of this world are run a bit differently.

At cat shows, the animals don't walk around in a circle (cats are a little too independent for that). Instead, they are placed in individual numbered cages set up behind a judge's table. The judge takes each cat out individually, examines and evaluates him or her, and then puts the cat back in the cage. Judging is accomplished by assessing the animal according to a written standard for each breed (with the exception of the Household Pet Class – since they are mixed-breed cats, there is no breed standard for them).

Cat Show Categories

Cat shows are divided into three different categories:

Championship Class

This class is for unaltered pedigreed cats at least eight months old. Competition is among other cats of the same breed, sex, and color. A cat must win six "winner's ribbons" to become a Champion. Then it must defeat 200 Champions to become a Grand Champion.

Premiership Class

This class is for neutered or spayed pedigreed cats at least eight months old. These altered cats are judged by the same standards as the cats in championship and need six winner's ribbons to become a Premier. A Premier must defeat 75 Premiers to become a Grand Premier.

Non-championship Classes

These classes are divided into six divisions:

Cats, kittens, and premiers compete for regional and national points in every show in which they are entered.

Show rings

Most shows are either six-ring or eight-ring shows. The judge in each ring handles every cat entered in competition and then picks his/her favorite cats, kittens and premiers in a "final" presentation (usually a Top 10). Points are given in ascending order for each place in a final where a cat is placed. At the end of the show the points are tabulated to produce the highest-scoring cat, kitten, and premier. Sometimes, household pets will also be scored this way, but there is no accruing of regional and national points.

Most shows have both All-breed and Specialty rings. All-breed judges will look at both longhair and shorthair cats and pick their Top 10. Specialty judges will judge longhair cats and pick their top cats, and then will judge shorthairs and pick their top cats. At present there are 35 breeds accepted for Championship status in CFA.

The largest cat show in the nation is the CFA International Show, held the third weekend in November of every year. In 2001 and 2002 it will be held at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, with more than 1,300 cats from all over the world competing for the coveted "Best In Show" title. In 2000, the winner was a copper-eyed white Persian female, Wishes Lyric, bred and owned by Connie Stewart of Temple City, Calif.

To find out about cat shows in your area, visit the Web site of the Cat Fanciers Association Inc (CFA), the world's largest cat registry. Founded in 1906 to promote the welfare of cats, this non-profit organization works toward improving each breed, registering cats and kittens, and setting rules for the management of cat shows. To find a listing of shows go to Or check the "Show and Go" section of CATS Magazine.

Show Hall Etiquette