How We Act At Cat Shows
by Susannah Pincheira, Kissables Persians
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Can we talk? Exhibitor to exhibitor?
Have you ever thought about how we act towards visitors to the cat show? And how our actions may impact on the cat fancy in general?
It is easy to forget that those visitors, "the gate", help pay the bills for the cat show. We, the exhibitors, are the ambassadors of our breeds, are we not? Does it not behoove us to be welcoming hosts to the spectators at the cat show?
How many of us bring pet kittens to sell? Who will buy them if there are no spectators? Other breeders don't want our pet kittens when they can make their own. We need "pet" people to visit the cat show, so let's make it a fun experience for them.
Another thought - Where will the future cat fanciers come from? Many of the people ooh-ing and awh-ing through out the show hall today may become the cat breeders of tomorrow. The impression the show and the exhibitors make on them will stay with them for a long time.
If we, the exhibitors, give a bad impression, there will be no future for the fancy. I entered my first cat show at age 12 in Hawaii. If people had been nasty or abrupt towards me I probably would not be breeding today and enjoying my hobby as I do.
Imagine how hard it must be for spectators at the cat show to see our beautiful felines and yet not be allowed to touch. Remember how you felt when you saw your first show kitty? It is only natural to want to pet one. Imagine how delighted spectators feel when they leave the show hall and know they not only *saw* beautiful cats but they were also able to *touch* one!
Too many of my cat show friends seem to snub their noses at the spectators. Frankly, I am embarrassed by their attitude. If it is in between rings, I offer visitors antiseptic hand wash, explaining why we must disinfect, and then let them touch my cat, especially children. I see many of my friends gasp in shock when I do this. I actually get quite a kick out of that!
In the pictures on this page you can see the look on the faces on children that were allowed to be a part of the cat show experience. I even let one young lady (pictured on the right) to take my cat up to every ring and it was ADORABLE! The judges, spectators and fellow exhibitors all had glowing smiles when they saw this little girl carrying a kitty that weighed almost as much as she did.
The "special" handling is good for the cat too. And may I add here, I have NEVER brought ringworm home from a show.
There is a personal reward for being nice to the spectators too. The look on a person's face when they hold one of my kitties is sheer joy. When I think back on the show, its the faces of those people and the happiness that shows through that stays with me for years. We all know how it feels to snuggle our sweet babies and seeing others share that experience warms your heart. The rosettes are thrown out quickly but those memories last forever.
You may never know what affect your generosity has when you allow a spectator to pet your show cat. I get many emails from spectators at the show thanking me for spending time with them and letting them touch my cats. Parents write things like, "Matty was so excited. She talked about it for weeks!"
Clearly, how we treat the spectators leaves a lasting impression... and you can bet the next time the show comes to town they will want to bring more friends and family. This means more money for the cat clubs, folks. Indeed, without the gate fees paid by spectators, many cat clubs would have a difficult time putting on future shows.
So next time someone smiles at you and tells you how pretty your cat is, share some information about the breed or your cat, and maybe even let them touch it after washing their hands. It just might make someone's day... or plant a seed that will blossom into a future cat fancier.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Susannah Pincheira, founder of Kissables Persians in 1998, lives with her 3 children and husband of 19 years in Pasco, Washington. A stay at home mom, she is able to spend time with her children and pursue her cat hobby/addiction and daily computer work. A personal interest in creating her own website led her to develop Web Designs by Sukie, designing sites for many top breeders in the Persian world. She has been showing regularly for 10 years and has 30 CFA homebred grand champions, multiple regional winners, and DM's, as well as TICA International winners both in the USA and in Europe. She breeds bicolor and tabby bicolors, concentrating on a sweet open expression, tiny ears and large eyes set on a short and wide body with boning. Currently she is working on increasing coat factor and producing a consistent bloodline of tabby bicolors with small ears and a sweet, typical bicolor expression - but with eyeliner, something, she feels is lost in many tabby bicolor Persians of today. She is also interested in the odd eyed bicolors, with two of her own odd eyed bicolors, and has also bred two males that have produced several odd eyed bicolor Persians for other breeders. The cat fancy has been a growing experience both in her personal life and her breeding program and, as she says, "life is never dull in the Pincheira/Kissables household."
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