Do you have an interest in learning more about the various breeds of cats that are on display? Attend a show featuring cats!
Cat people will be in hog heaven here. At the Crowne Plaza in Southbury, there is a large conference room as well as a hallway that is filled with meticulously groomed cats lined up in rows. The annual show put on by the Nutmeg Cat Fanciers is currently in progress. Some cats are kept in regulation wire cages, which are draped and decorated in fabrics and colors that complement the cats’ natural coloring. These colors and fabrics are used to decorate the cages. Others are concealed more discreetly within tents that have zippers and screening to protect their privacy. On their way to the judging ring, owners carrying their cats make their way through the crowds as quickly as possible.
Fluffy Persians with flowing coats and large eyes that are separated by a button nose in the middle of their face. The Maine Coons have a regal appearance with big-boned bodies and lion ruffs on their necks. Abyssinians with foxlike faces Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs of the highest quality.
Bombays made of patent leather and featuring copper penny accents on the eyes, along with their Burmese counterparts that are shiny brown. Tonkinese with emerald eyes that range in color from milk chocolate to platinum. They are all competing for the title of Best of Breed, and then they will have to wait all weekend for the decision, which will be made by six different judges (both from the specialty and all breed categories).
On the surface, it appears to be a beauty contest; however, those who are involved in the show circuit take competitions of this kind very seriously. In contrast to dog shows, in which the various breeds of dogs are led by their handlers around the ring for the judge’s inspection, cat shows have the cats brought to the judges in a ring that is divided by breed and class (kitten, adult, and premier). The judge removes each cat from its enclosure, examines it, and then assigns points based on a set of criteria specific to each breed of cat. Exhibitors and spectators both take their places in the ring to watch as the judge places ribbons on some of the cages but not all of them. Occasionally, they will hold their breath.
The top 10 cats in each category are brought in again to receive their rosettes, and their final scores are taken into consideration. In the grand scheme of things, cats that have been diligently campaigned all over the region have a chance of ending up at the Cat Fanciers’ Association International Show, which was held in San Mateo, California, this past year. (The show will be known as Cat-Minster: CFA International Cat Championship, and it will air on the GSN channel on March 27, from 8 to 10 o’clock in the evening.)
It’s a love-hate relationship when it comes to campaigning for a cat. Believe what I say about this. I took my Russian Blues all over the country to compete in shows for several years, and I would frequently take all three of them. It requires driving to a hotel either the night before the show or at some ungodly hour in the morning and packing up the feline (or felines) along with a large assortment of items such as cage curtains, grooming products, treats, beds, and toys, in addition to your own belongings. The feline (or felines) may be reluctant to travel with you. Two days are spent parked on a folding chair in front of your cage, where you attempt to create your own comfort zone within a couple of square feet. You periodically take your feline from the cage as your number is called, quickly checking for eye buggers and smoothing (or fluffing) the coat before heading for the ring. Some shows may only require one day of this preparation time.
When you take home a collection of vibrant rosettes, the hours spent sitting in front of the cage in the hopes that your cat will act appropriately for the judges are more than worth it. And last but not least, there is the sense of camaraderie. You’re in the company of people who all share a passion for their feline companions.
It was difficult to show Russian Blues in the late 1980s and early 1990s because they are calm cats that prefer to spend their time at home. Since then, breeders have been putting in a lot of effort to acclimate them to the show circuit, but when I was showing Ashley, Sara, Sophie, and Cinders, I was never quite sure how they would react. Since then, breeders have been putting in a lot of effort to acclimate them to the show circuit. Despite having a few temper tantrums here and there, they all performed admirably in the end.
In the back of my basement is a box stuffed with rosette awards, along with many other memories. Even though all of the kitties have crossed over to the other side, I just can’t bring myself to throw away the ribbons.
At the moment, Tekla is the only Russian Blue I have. She is absolutely stunning and serves as a wonderful example of her breed. Her lineage is illustrious because she was born to the mother of the last litter produced by a renowned breeder. Because there are so few Russian Blues displayed in this area, I sometimes consider showing her one. But then I think about getting out of our nice warm bed so early in the morning… I think we’ll just stick to looking back and watching.
The International Cat Association (TICA) will host a show on April 28 and 29 in Ansonia at Warsaw Park, located at 119 Pulaski Highway, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (http://blueblaze.com/catshowflyers/geneticats/), providing an opportunity for those who were unable to attend the Southbury show in February. Visit the website www.cfainc.org/shows.html for additional details regarding CFA shows.
Oh, those pesky Vendors!
A cat show is not complete without its vendors, who feature an irresistible array of cat-themed goodies for cats and those who love them: catnip toys, catnip treats, catnip furniture, catnip pillows, catnip Handbags and totes designed by Laurel Birch, the doyenne of cat design; grooming products and tools for those who may have left something behind; collars studded with crystals for felines and jewelry for their people; beds of varying degrees of plushness; toys (of course), including balls, wands, and furry mice. Apparel ranging from shirts to socks; handbags and totes designed by Laurel Birch; grooming products and tools for those who Scratchers designed by Arubacat’s Arty Mitchell are an essential part of any and all cat shows held in the New England region. Their quality and longevity are unparalleled, as evidenced by the fact that we have one that must be at least 15 years old but still looks great. The judges’ tables were outfitted with Arty’s sisal scratchers, and the cats made diligent use of them so that they could display their impressively toned bodies. Also, don’t forget to bring something back for your own cats at home because they’ve surely been missing you while you were gone.
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