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:

  • Kittens – judged between the ages of four to eight months, altered or unaltered.
  • Any Other Variety (AOV) – for registered cats or kittens that do not meet the standard: coat-wise, color-wise, or sex-wise; ear-wise, in the case of Scottish Folds and American Curls; tail-wise in the case of the Manx. These cats can compete for color ribbons but are not considered for breed awards or finals.
  • Provisional competition – for those breeds that have not yet achieved Championship status.
  • Miscellaneous – for any registered cat or kitten that has been accepted by CFA for registration but has not reached Provisional status. This class gives the judges a chance to evaluate the new breed and to give their opinions as to whether they deserve to be considered for Championship status.
  • Household Pet competition – for all altered random-bred or non-pedigreed cats. De-clawed cats are ineligible for entry.
  • Exhibition Only – means the cat is entered in the show but is not scheduled to be handled by the judges.

    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

  • As beautiful as the cats on show are, never try to touch one without an owner's consent. While breeders are most willing to discuss their breed with spectators, they are usually reluctant to allow touching because of a fear of spreading germs from one animal to the next. (Judges must disinfect their hands in between judging each cat.)
  • Children are welcome and even encouraged to attend cat shows, but they should be supervised by their parents and not allowed to run or shout in the hall. Sometimes a loud noise will startle a cat that is being judged.
  • Do not try to walk into a ring where a judge is working. Most shows provide several rows of chairs where spectators can sit and watch the proceedings.
  • You can purchase catalogs that give the number, breed, sex, classification, name of the cat, and ownership of each cat in attendance. The judge is not allowed to see a catalog as the judge's books contain only the cats' number, breed, sex, and classification.

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