Jabberwoky Glitter and ACFA judge Don Finger
If you get the 2012 issue of the Cats USA magazine, out this month, you will see an article (by me!) about showing Household Pet cats (HHPs). And if you’ve read my past blog entries both here and on my earlier KCCI site you know that I love showing cats. I believe that cat shows not only showcase the pedigreed cats but also help educate the public about cats in general. In fact, I think education is the most important aspect of cat shows.
The presence of HHPs gives the public an opportunity to see what their cats should look like. To start with here’s a few “requirements” for HHPS:
· they must be white, black, blue, red, multi-colored or any other color
· they must be either longhaired or shorthaired, curly-haired or straight-haired
· they must be either male or female but if over 8 months of age they must be neutered
· they must be at least 4 months old
· they must be healthy, well-groomed and easily handled by strangers
It is this last “requirement” that cat shows can help cat owners attain for their cats.
The term, healthy, refers to a wide range of considerations. First the cat should be vaccinated against the basic, common viral infections including Rabies. He should also be free of parasites including fleas, ear mites and intestinal worms. What about his weight? Your veterinarian can advise you best about that but you can also compare your cat’s “figure” to a body condition chart such as the one here: http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/body-condition-scoring-chart .
Grooming, as well, can encompass a lot of things. For instance, how often do you brush or comb your cat’s fur? For most longhairs a daily brushing would be best while for shorthairs you may be able to get away with weekly brushing. At least weekly you should be checking your cat’s ears, teeth and eyes for any sign of disease or just dirt. During each grooming session also run your hands down his body to check for any lumps or bumps. Knowing what is normal helps you to recognize when a pathological condition arises.
Sometimes show cats are simply born with outgoing personalities that win them awards but you can help your introverted cat improve his outlook on strangers. Ideally you should start when your cat is a kitten but even adults can learn to trust other people and situations. First, be sure your cat is accustomed to the carrier by leaving it out at all times and perhaps even feeding your cat in it. Take him on periodic car rides that don’t include a visit to the vet. It would even be a good idea to take your cat to other households or a pet supply store to get him used to strange surroundings and people. Any cat that can handle these situations should be a good candidate for cat shows. But even if you don’t intend to show your cat he will be much happier if he is comfortable around other people.
Thus when cats are presented at cat shows the cat-owning public gets to see healthy, happy cats; and showing HHPs lets them know that, yes, even mixed-breed cats are valuable members of the family. So many times at shows spectators approach my benching cage and ask what breed my cats are. When I answer that they are HHPs their response almost always is “Oh, just HHPs?” or “Oh, just mixed-breeds?” My immediate reaction is to smile and gently correct them by saying “we never say just.” With HHPs at a cat show the average cat owner can more easily relate to the cats. They may more easily see that their own cats are just as good as anyone’s.