Exhibiting Show Cats in CFA is a fun hobby. It is recommended that one starts by doing a ton of research and selecting a breed of Cat you would like to work with. CFA has a wonderful Mentorship Program aimed to get you started in the fancy the right way. It is also recommended that one begins with a spayed or neutered cat. Breeders are more open to selling a high quality Show Cat to someone that wants to show in the premiership class. Breeders do hold onto their very best, but may be willing to part with the second pick of the litter.
Once you have decided on which breed you want to start with, study the CFA standard for the breed of your choice. Examine Grand Champions of that breed and begin to develop your eye for the best qualities to look for in your future cat. It would be great if you could pair up with a successful breeder that is willing to help you in your search. They can help you discern the quality of cat you are thinking about purchasing and don't purchase a cat impulsively.
Generally a spayed or neutered cat will cost substantially less than a whole cat. This way you can get your feet wet in the fancy without spending a small fortune. Go to shows in your area and examine cats being shown--check the CFA Show Calendar to find out when a Cat Show may be held in your area. Introduce yourself to an exhibitor when the exhibitor is relaxed and not frantically grooming their cat in anticipation of a ring call. Also ask the Show Management to introduce you to a CFA Ambassador, and ask as many questions as you like. The CFA website has a wonderful page prepared for the New Exhibitor: CFA The New Bee Program.
Once you have decided on the breed of cat and have brought your new feline friend home, it is essential to start learning how to groom your cat. Each breed has its own grooming strategies and requirements. A good mentor will help you develop your grooming skills. Next you will need to purchase or make Show Curtains or buy a benching tent and other sundry grooming tools and show supplies. Again your Mentor can guide you on what items are a priority and what can wait. Also, read CFA's Ready Set Show for many tips to prepare you for your successful first show.
Now that you have entered a show, have your kitty groomed to perfection and have all the supplies you will need for the big weekend, it is time to familiarize yourself with the Cat Show Catalog and award system. Once your cat has won it's winners ribbons and is ready to compete in Premiership (Spayed/neutered class) or Championship (whole cats) to work toward "Granding" your kitty, you must familiarize yourself with the two point systems: National and Regional Points and Championship and Premiership Points. CFA has a wonderful page online called How are Ribbons Awarded.
Looking at the Point calculators (National and Regional Points or Championship and Premiership Points), let's say for example there are 20 All-breed Premiers; ten Longhair Premiers and 40 cats in premiership total entered in the show. Your cat (Persian, thus a Long Hair) won Second Best All-breed Premier and Best Long Hair Premier and 10th Best Cat in Premiership. First looking at the Championship and Premiership Point Calculator, go to #20 (number of All-breed Premiers) and read across to the second place column and you will find that your cat earned 18.10 points toward its Grand. Let's say your cat won third best Long Hair Premier, your cat would have accumulated 7.20 points (Best, Second and Third Best All-breed points supercede the LH points) toward its Grand. Now looking at the National and Regional Point calculator, find the number 40 (total number of cats entered in the Premiership Class) and read across to 10th place and you cat will have accumulated 21.50 National and Regional points. The Championship or Premiership Points are accumulated to win the 200 points requires for Grand Championship or 75 points for Grand Premiership, while the National and Regional points accumulate over the show season and determines overall placement for the show year. Many exhibitors "campaign" their cats to earn a National or Regional title (top 25 nationally or top 25 in one's home region). Confused? No worries--it takes everyone a while to understand the point system.
By the Wednesday or Thursday following the show weekend your cat's 'official' Grand points scored are posted on Herman Online. You will want to check Herman if your cat made any finals. The Show Count announced or posted at the show is only an estimate. Enter your cat's registration number and the score will be revealed. You may want to subscribe to CFA's Almanac Online. There you can see the National and/or Regional and/or Breed accumulated point scores for all cats shown during the show season.
You will have good shows and not so good shows, but friendliness and good sportsmanship is expected. Never disagree with a Judge and respect their opinion especially if they take a moment to talk with you. They are only trying to help you learn. Please check out the weath of valuble information available on CFA's New Bee Website and A Beginner's Guide To Exhibiting at CFA Cat Shows written By Perri Mongan. Both websites cover many topics from The Preliminaries to Show Hall Etiquette.
When I began my journey to purchase a Persian Cat, I went to a local Cat Show and wandered the aisles. At the time I thought I wanted a Himalayan, but when I saw the Silver Persians with their green eyes, mascara and ethereal look, I was in love. At the time I was encouraged to show, but 'showing' did not appeal to me. After I got my first cat I met other Silver Breeders in the greater San Francisco Bay Region and everyone showed me how to properly groom my cat and always urged me to show my first kitty. Eventually I did and the show bug bit. Silvers are difficult to show so it took me a while to 'breed" my first successful show kitties. By the turn of the century, I was showing my kitties in earnest and was delighted that my cats were finally were awarded and Granded in 2001. You must be patient and willing to learn to be successful exhibiting cats. It is a long and hard journey, with many heartbreaks along the way, but it is extremely satisfying to see one's beautiful kitties rewarded and acknowledged in the show ring. Wyndcreste Grand Champions and Wyndcreste Grand Premiers.
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