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Even before they get to the judge, show cats have a lot to learn, including accepting long-distance travel in a carrier and staying in hotels. They also need to accept being around many other cats, a prospect made easier by the use of cage curtains to block cats housed side by side at shows from seeing each other.
I haven’t been to all that many cat shows — or dog shows, for that matter — but the times I have, I have been impressed by the cat-friendly skills on display, especially from the judges. They’re very savvy about feline body language and very good at keeping cats calm. Even more impressive, the judges are often putting on a show for the audience while they're handling the cats, explaining what they like in each of the entrants before them. When cats are too stressed to be handled or judged, they’re put back in the cages near ringside for the safety of all. There’s always another show, after all, and no one wants a cat or person hurt.
While most show cats are pedigreed and trained from kittenhood for their work, there are some show cats who come from more modest backgrounds. Cat shows often have competitions for “household pets.” These cats are judged based on their obvious good health, sweet temperaments and interesting markings. Maybe there’s a career there for my pal Donner the blood donor!
The Cat Fanciers' Association is one of a handful of organizations that sanction cat shows. The CFA holds shows around the world and has a mentor program for those who’d like to get involved. Find out more on the CFA website.
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