A cat show can be a stressful situation. I think it might be useful to describe the etiquette of the cat fancy. Maybe there are some folks out there who need an initial lesson or a reminder about what constitutes proper conduct in the show hall.
A lot of it is not in the CFA Show Rules, although some of it is...
This is the start of a list that probably should have a lot more items on it. In no particular order:
- When approaching the show ring with your cat: take a few seconds and see how the judge is working; which side is s/he going to with cats being judged. Go in the other side with your cat, unless your cat's number is up on the same side as the judge is working. In that case, WAIT until the judge goes back to the table before caging your cat.
- Examine your cat's eyes, butt, and paws for crumbs BEFORE you leave your benching area. The judging cage is not an appropriate place to clean your cat.
- If your cat vomits, sprays, pees, or poops in the judging cage, it is YOUR responsibility to clean it up. Remove the cat as soon as physically possible. Work with the ring clerk to move your cat to a empty, clean cage, if possible. Use the steward's towels and spray (after asking politely to borrow them) and clean the soiled cage. If your cat's output has oozed into a neighboring cat's cage, you must notify the exhibitor and have them remove their cat so you can clean that cage. Remove any soiled materials from the ring. Do not put them in the judge's waste bag, or in the steward's waste bag.
- Keep your elbows in. Be aware of your surroundings. Let people with cats get past you. Don't deliberately let your cat go face to face with another cat. Even the calmest cat in the show hall can get riled up by getting into a confrontation with another cat.
- After you put your cat into the judging cage – remove yourself from the ring area behind the judge’s table.
- If you remain in the audience at the judging ring until your cat has been judged, given awards, and excused, BE QUIET. Remember that the judge can hear people talking who are standing behind the spectator chairs. CFA Show Rules are quite clear about spectators talking (and judges hearing) about individual cats. It should not happen.
- It's OK to leave your cat in the judging ring if you have other cats to be shown or if you just gotta go. However, if your cat or kitten might misbehave, thru fear or bad temper, you ought to be close by so that you can assist the judge in giving your cat the best possible show experience.
- If the judge asks for the handler's assistance with a cat and you are that handler: go quickly into the ring and DO WHAT THE JUDGE ASKS YOU TO DO. The judge may have you only take the cat from the judging cage and put it on the table. The judge may want you to keep one hand on the cat to keep it calm. The judge may want to put the cat back in the cage, or the judge may ask you to put it back. Do not make excuses about the cat's behavior. Do not chat with the judge. Don't call the cat by name. Chirp, hum, whisper, say "good boy" and let the kitty know it's safe and that it's OK. Stay out of the way as much as possible so the judge can examine the cat.
- Be a good exhibitor. Do unto other exhibitors as you would have them do unto you. Leave their stuff alone, unless they've told you that the peanut butter cups are for everyone. Put your name on your stuff. Keep your purse, cell phone, camera, PCs, and/or hand held devices in a secure place or don't complain when they disappear.
- When you agree to watch a group of cages for exhibitors who are away for a while, stay there, or find a replacement.
- When you set up your cages in the morning, and take them down at the end, keep your junk out of the aisle so that people can get thru. Don't clip or tape your curtains to someone else's cages without permission. You get the space under YOUR cage space for storage and nobody else's.
- It'd be nice if you followed the 10 Commandments and honored the Golden Rule, regardless of your religious affiliation.
- Not exactly etiquette--just common sense and courtesy and concern for your cats' health: If your cats are sick, stay home. If your cats are sick, get medical attention for them. You might be surprised to know that all cats do not routinely have winky eyes or snotty sneezes. Chronic head tilts aren't cute; they indicate a serious sinus or ear problem. Healthy cats shouldn't have runny poops or diarrhea.
- Be very cautious about asking a judge about your cat (Why didn't you like it? Why did you dump it? Shall I run it for a national win? What's wrong with it?) Most judges don't want to hurt your feelings. When they hung the ribbons, they gave you their opinion of your cat. A few might be willing to give you a precise explanation of your cat's faults, but don't count on it. If the judge takes the time to talk about the various cats in a judging session, listen to what the judge DOESN'T say about your cat, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what the judge didn't like.
- Don't forget Thumper's Rule: If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything.
- Be considerate of your fellow exhibitors. Clean up after your cats, particularly if they produce smelly poops in their litter pans. Do NOT dispose of this waste until you have sealed it into plastic bags. I recommend that you include a handful of ziploc-type bags in your show gear for this purpose.
- If you are showing a whole male and he is known to spray, have the common courtesy to tell the ring clerk so that your male can be placed in a cage on the end where he cannot spray into 2 or 3 other cages. If he does spray, you will need to clean it up. Do NOT spray the cage with odor killer without the knowledge and permission of the ring clerk.
- Do not walk in front of the judge’s table when the judge is examining a cat on the table. Clerks should also avoid that area.
- Remember ALWAYS that your cat doesn’t care if it wins or loses. It doesn’t care if it gets a rosette.
So... there you have it... 19 cat show etiquette tips that if followed will make for a happier, more enjoyable show experience for everyone in the show hall.
About The Author:
Ann Segrest has been breeding Korats in CFA's Region 2 since 1990.
Her cattery name, Kiriki, is a Native American word that means "bright eyes".
She has bred and shown 2 DM Korat females, 2 National BOB Korats and numerous Regional Winners in Championship and Premiership.