Junior Showmanship: Getting Started

Published September 2001

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Kristina Sutton from Arlington, TX is shown
presenting her Scottish fold in Junior Showmanship

If you are a young person between the ages of 8 and 15 years, you can enter and participate in CFA Junior Showmanship classes.

Participants are judged on their knowledge, ability and skill at presenting their cats in the show ring.

The program is meant to encourage, teach and mentor children who are interested in breeding and exhibiting and perhaps eventually judging pedigreed cats in CFA.

Does the cat shown by the Junior need to be a CFA registered cat?

The cat must be a CFA registered cat, but not necessarily show quality, since the cat's quality is not being judged.

While the quality of the cat is not being judged, feedback from Juniors who have already participated in the JS rings does indicate that it is easier to understand and interpret the breed standards if the cat you are showing is actually show quality :-).

Must the cat be owned by the Junior?

The Junior should be responsible for all aspects of the cat he/she is showing, including feeding, grooming, and all other care and presentation for the ring.

It is preferred that the first cat shown by a Junior handler be owned by the young person. The cat can be co-owned with an adult, as long as the cat resides in the home of the Junior and the Junior is the primary person responsible for the well being of the cat.

CFA will make exceptions to this rule may be made on a case by case basis. Simply present your case in writing for a review of the circumstances by the Junior Showmanship Committee.

What breed of cat should the Junior choose?

There are no restrictions about what breed a Junior should choose to show, other than the cat must be appropriate for the age, size and abilities of the Junior.

A very small child should probably not attempt to present a large Maine Coon.

Since the Junior should be able to handle all phases of the care and grooming of his/her cat, an eight-year-old is probably not capable of being personally responsible for the coat care of a Persian.

Most Juniors begin with a breed that is most available to them. If their parents raise Siamese, they will start with a Siamese. If their mom's best friend breeds Birmans, they may get a Birman.

How much is the entry fee for JS?

The Entry fee for JS is $5. This includes a double cage for the cat. There is a special JS entry form that should be included with the show flyer or that can be obtained from the show entry clerk or by an email request to CFA (be sure to include your postal mailing address). The Entry Form is also available online as a PDF Form. JS entries have the same closing date as the regular entries for the show and receive a confirmation in the same manner as any exhibit.

Is the JS listed in the show catalogue?

Each JS handler receives their own number. The JS numbers are listed in a separate section of the catalogue which includes the JS handler's name and age plus their cat's age, breed, sex/neuter/spay.

If the JS handler's cat is also exhibited in the show, the cat has its own separate number and listing in the catalogue as per usual.

The judge asks the JS participant questions
about the fancy in general and their cat's breed

11year-old Teale Peck handles her Burmese female for the judge

How is the Junior Showmanship class judged?

Firstly, the presentation of the cat by the Junior Handler is judged. The young person should be able to present the cat in the same manner as a regular CFA judge would, emphasizing the best qualities of the cat.

Secondly, the Junior's knowledge of the breed is evaluated by a series of questions the judge will ask, appropriate to the Junior's age and experience.

How are Junior Showmanship classes divided?

There are 4 basic classes of Junior Showmanship, based upon the experience and the age of the young person participating.

Age in years
HAS NOT competed in
HAS competed in at least
Junior Division
Senior Division

Novice: This class is for boys and girls 8-15 years of age who at the time entries close have not competed in THREE NOVICE classes at a licensed show.

Open: This class is for boys and girls 8-15 years of age who at the time entries close HAVE competed in THREE NOVICE classes at a licensed show.

Junior Division: This class shall be for boys and girls 8-11 years of age who at the time entries close HAVE WON THREE OPEN classes at a licensed show.

Senior Division: This class shall be for boys and girls 12-15 years of age who at the time entries close HAVE WON THREE OPEN classes at a licensed show.

The Senior division has the OPTION of having the young person handle a cat of the same breed the Junior is exhibiting and having the Junior compare and contrast the two cats.

As the JS program develops, there is the possibility of having a child at the Senior level also handle and judge 2 cats of a breed other than the one being shown by the JS handler at the show. This requires Juniors to know breed standards and grooming requirements for the breeds other then those they are showing.

The Junior and Senior divisions may be broken into further subgroups, depending on the ability level of the participants.

There is also the option of having the winner of each class or division compete for best Junior Showmanship handler.

Do the Juniors receive a ribbon or a prize?

Each Junior will receive a participation rosette which can either be worn by the Junior or hung on their cat's benching cage.

Novice classes are not ranked. However, depending on the number of participants, rosettes are needed for the other classes

# of Competitors
# of awards

A club has the option of offering a prize/rosette for best Junior Showmanship Handler. Each winner of each class or division is eligible to compete.

The Junior's poise, presentation skills and knowledge of the breed all contribute to his/her final score.

Barbara Epstein in the Open class with
Waltur Hutzler handling a Lilac Point female Balinese at the Cat Club of the
Palm Beaches show held March 2001


What is the judge going to ask the Junior to do?

Each judge will have their own JS judging routine.

It may vary according to the age and experience of the junior, the breed of cat they are presenting, the number of juniors, etc.

The judge will however use only those procedures typical in a regular cat show class.

Usually the judge asks questions of the Junior while the cat they are showing remains in the judging cage.

After the questioning phase is complete, the Junior is asked to present their cat on the judging table. The judge will also handle the cat in order to evaluate the Juniors presentation.

What is the judge looking for?

While the judge must consider all areas important in evaluation of the overall capabilities of Juniors, it is doubly important that the Junior present the cat in the proper manner for the breed being shown and that the Judge is cognizant of the proper presentation for that breed.

In the individual presentation of the cat the Junior should demonstrate the ability to show the cat to its best advantage in pose. The Junior's attention should remain focused on the cat, and not on the judge, although the Junior should be able to take direction from the judge if called for. Also, the Judge must observe the relationship between the cat and Junior, to gain insight into how well the cat is being presented.

  • Is the cat responsive to the handler?
  • Does the cat appear posed or interested at all times?
  • Is the cat under control?
  • Are the cat's main faults being minimized?
  • Are the cat's attributes being maximized?
  • Do both cat and handler appear relaxed?

Junior Showmanship classes are judged on the ability of the Junior to handle his/her cat and the knowledge of his/her breed. The quality of the cat is not judged.

Juniors will be asked to demonstrate presenting their cat to the judge in a manner that emphasizes its best attributes; answering basic questions on the breed standard; answering two or three questions on general care of cats.

The important thing is that the Junior understands both how the cat does and does not fit its written breed standard.

The Junior should be able to compare his/her cat to the standard and describe to the judge exactly what qualities make it a distinct breed, and how each part of the cat meets or doesn't meet the standard.

The Junior should be able to handle all phases of the care and grooming of his/her cat. The judge will mark down if he/she feels that the Juniors were not responsible for the total care of the cat they are presenting. Cats should be groomed as they would be for the regular ring. Judges will not evaluate the quality of grooming of the cat, but the effort made by the Junior to prepare their cat for the ring.


Novice Scott Guderjan
is presenting his Birman, Xian,
at the MoKan Cat Club show on August 11-12 in Kansas City, MO

Juniors will be judged on their ability to present their cats in the same way the cat would be properly presented by the judge in the regular ring. Juniors will also be judged on their ability to make their individual cat look its best.

During all parts of the competition Juniors should handle their cats in a quiet, smooth manner. The Junior should strive to make the cat stand out as the most important part of a team effort. Juniors should concentrate on the cat and not on the judge, but always be aware of what is going on in the ring.

How does the judge mark and record the JS results?

The JS judge evaluates each Junior on a JS Evaluation Form provided by CFA especially for this purpose. The Junior receives a copy of their evaluation form so they can see the areas which can be targeted for improvement. See an example of a completed Evaluation Form .

Where is a schedule of upcoming shows with a Junior Showmanship class?

The JS show schedule is available in the CFA Almanac and on the CFA web site. A booklet is also available from CFA that details all the requirements of the program. It should be read thoroughly by everyone interested in participating in Junior Showmanship. Just email a request for a copy of Junior Showmanship - Guidelines and Regulations, including your postal mailing address.

Judge Kitty Angel with her winners of Junior Showmanship at the
Denver Foot of the Rockies cat show in April 2001

(from the left to right)
Caitlin Majewski from Broomfield, CO
Emily Swedlend from Cheyenne, WY
Kristina Sutton from Arlington, TX
the judge, Kitty Angell
and Teale Peck from Denver, CO

*** photos courtesy of Sandy Merrill, Leroy Monroe and Marguerite Epstein


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