The Show Cat - Cat Show

Harrison Weir (1824 - 1906) The Father of the Cat Fancy

The first cat show on record was held as part of an English fair in the year 1598, but serious showing really only began in 1871, with a large show at London’s Crystal Palace for British Shorthair and Persian types. Harrison Weir (1824 - 1906) The Father of the Cat Fancy, was an English gentleman and artist. He organized the first cat show in England, in the Crystal Palace, London, in 1871. He and his brother, John Jenner Weir, both served as a judges in the show.
At about the same time, the first American cat show was held in New England for the Maine Coon breed. British cat shows are still run on the same lines as the early ones, with judges visiting each cat in its pen. Later, some shows had a ring class with cats on leads being paraded en masse around a ring by their owners – you can imagine the fracas that often ensued! Nowadays, cats in the American shows are taken from their pens to be examined in turn by a judge at a judging table, in full view of the public.

How shows are organized

Each country has a controlling authority for all the cat clubs and societies. In Britain this is the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). In the USA the largest body is the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). These authorities lay down formally approved standards for all breeds, provide the registration of pedigrees and transfer of ownership, and approve show dates.

In Britain, when you apply for a show, you will be sent a schedule giving details of the show rules and classes, together with an entry form. Show rules are laid down to ensure fairness and to protect the interests of the cats. For example, no cat or kitten may be shown in Britain unless it has been innoculated against Feline Infectious Enteritis. Also, after showing a cat you must wait till at least fourteen days before exhibiting it again. Another rule prohibits the use of any colouring matter that could alter a cat’s appearance.

In the USA entry forms for cat shows are obtainable from the entry clerk, who will be listed in the following publications: in “To Show and Go” in Cats magazine; in the CFA’s monthly periodical, The Almanac; and also in the TICA Trend, the CFF Newsletter, and the ACFA Bulletin. The entry clerk will mail a confirmation of receipt of your entry form, which carries the details of your entry as it will appear in the catalogue. This should be checked and any errors notified to the entry clerk, if there is time before the catalogue is printed, or to the master clerk at the show. Errors can result in the disqualification of winners.

Types and classes of show

In Britain there are three types of show: Championship, Sanction, and Exemption.

Championship: This is the major show event and attracts the very finest of felines. Probably the largest championship in the world is the national Cat Club Show, held in London, with over two-thousand entries. Challenge certificates are awarded to Open-Class winners if of a high quality. A cat with three certificates is eligible for the champion of Champions Class. A three-time winner of this class becomes a Grand Champion. (Neutered cats become premiers).

Sanction: These shows follow the same rules as Championship shows but challenge certificates are not awarded.

Exemption: At exemption shows regulations are not applied so stringently. Such shows are the ideal starting point for beginners.

In Britain shows there are usually four class categories; the Open, Side, Club, and Household Pet classes.

Open Class: This is the most important class, and is open to all pedigree-registered cats, neuters, and kittens. If your cat is eligible, it must be entered in an open class.

Side Class: Exhibits usually have to be entered in at least four classes, and these can include the various Side Classes. For example, if your cat has never won at a show before, one of its entries could be for the “maiden” class.

Club Class: Sponsored y particular cat clubs, these classes are open to members only.

Household Pet Class: This class is solely for neuters of unknown or unknown or unregistered parentage.

Preparing your cat for the show

* Make sure that your cat is vaccinated (or receives its annual booster) in good time before the show. Do not take your cat to a show if it is not in peak condition.

* Accustom your cat to being panned and handled. Put it into a pen for a few minutes a day to begin with and gradually extend the time. Let other member of the family and strangers handle the cat regularly in order to avoid embarrassing displays of aggression or panic when the show judge handles it.

* Accustom your cat to car travel. Cat sickness can produce symptoms that mimic those of true illness and may make the cat most unwelcome at the show.

* Give the cat regular grooming sessions and inspections of eyes, ears, mouth, bottom, and feet.


The coat of a Longhair should be full and “fluffed up” (see Grooming a longhair). Don’t use grooming powder if the show is less than two days away as traces of powder in the coat will be penalized. If your cat’s coat is white or has a lot of white patches in it, you can brush in a chalk-based powder to enhance the whiteness, but make sure you brush it all out. If your cat’s coat is black, tortie, or any other dark colour combination, don’t use white powder as it is difficult to remove and flattens the colours. If you feel it necessary, use fullers earth then bay rum conditioner.

Groom Shorthaired cats in the usual way (see Grooming a shorthair), using bay rum conditioner instead of powder. To give the coat a final gloss, polish it with velvet or chamois-leather.

What to take

You will need the following:
* White litter tray
* Newspaper and litter for tray
* White show blanket
* White feeding dish
* White water bowl
* Bottle for carrying water
* Tally (the small white disc with cat’s show entry number)
* White ribbon or elastic for attaching the tally to cat’s neck
* Traveling container
* Blanket for traveling
* Cat food
* Disinfectant and cloth
* Brushes and combs
* Schedule of classes entered
* Entrance ticket and pass-out card
* Vetting-in card
* Current vaccination (Feline Infectious Enteritis) certificate.


If you are showing a kitten, you will need to feed it before you leave. Otherwise it is best to wait until after the show. If you do decide to feed your cat beforehand, give it meat or tinned cat food, not milky food.

How a show cat is judged

Pedigree cats are judged against a scale of one-hundred points given for features matching the breed standard. Here are the marking systems used for champion Blue Longhairs and champion Siamese.

Blue Longhair
Head: Type and shape: 25 points
Eyes: Colour and shape: 20 points
Body: 15 points
Coat: 15 points
Condition: 10 points
Tail: 10 points

Head: Type and shape: 15 points
Ears: Type and shape: 5 points
Body: Type and shape: 15 points
Coat: Texture: 10 points; point colour: 10 points; body colour: 10 points
Condition: 5 points
Tail: 10 points
Legs and paws: Type and shape: 5 points