Lets Go to a Cat Show

A typical cat show scores highly for both its educational and entertainment value.


These popular events take place practically every weekend in some part of the country, varying in size and importance on the feline show calendar. In many ways, they can be likened to mini fairs. The show rings and judging is only one aspect of the day’s proceedings; There’s also a variety of other activities from informative workshops, adoption booths, often a feline agility course and of course lots and lots of shopping to ensure a fun-filled day.

Two main cat registries rule the feline show world in the United States. The Cat Fanciers Association, CFA is the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats and currently recognizes 41 different breeds.

The International Cat Association, TICA, is the largest genetic cat registry worldwide, registering cats according to their genetic codes. These codes are what create typical characteristics within a breed like specific markings and colors.


From the spectators’ viewpoint, both CFA and TICA organized events are set up along similar lines. Rows of cages house the feline participants waiting to be judged in a number of show rings, each presided over by a judge and a clerk to keep a record of the proceedings. The judging in the various rings goes on concurrently.

Cat shows are often two or three day events. At a CFA show, an exhibiter would show their cat on both days but it’s scored as one show as the same judge sees the cat on both days. While at a TICA show, each day is scored as a different show with different judges. So during a three-day show, each cat would triple its chances of winning.

Learning the ropes at a cat show can be confusing because both CFA and TICA has its own set of competitive categories, methods of scorings and ultimately, awards system.


The judging rings at a CFA show are classified either as allbreed shows, where all cats, regardless of coat length or type compete for various awards. Specialty shows allow only cats of similar coat length or type to compete against one another. Males and females are judged separately.

Both allbreed and specialty shows are held for the following category of cats.

Kittens are classified according to their age. They have to be not younger than four months and not older than eight months. All kittens are judged collectively irrespective of whether they have been spayed or neutered. Kittens can only win ribbons, not titles.

The Championship Class category is for unaltered, pedigreed cats over the age of eight months. Premiership is the equivalent for all altered (spayed and neutered) pedigreed cats over the age of eight months.

The Household Pets Division is for non-pedigreed cats and pedigreed cats with a disqualifying trait that would disallow it from being shown in the regular classes. Non-pedigreed kittens older aged between four-eight months can also compete in the category. However, if they are older than eight months they have to be spayed or neutered. The Veteran Class is for both males and females, altered or unaltered that are more than seven years of age on the opening day of the show. While Provisional and Miscellaneous titles are for breeds that have not as yet achieved championship status.

Cats that have been declawed are unable to compete in any category.


First place is blue, second place is red, third place is yellow. A winner’s ribbon is red, white and blue. A cat has to collect six winners’ ribbons to become a champion or a premier. When cats in the same color group have been appraised a black ribbon denotes Best of Class and a white ribbon denotes second best status.

Once a judge has evaluated all the cats in a breed or color division within a breed, the Best of Breed ribbon awarded is brown. The Best Champion of Breed is awarded a purple ribbon.

The very top of the awards pyramid is the final in each category and the ultimate prize is a rosette. They can be any color.


TICA also has two kinds of rings – all-breed and specialty. However, their title award system is based on the number of points earned in the finals and the number of finals made by the cat in all the categories.

Kittens are also classified by age (four to eight months) and can’t win titles.

Cats eligible for titles must make a given amount of points and reach the finals for each of the awarded titles. The points are tallied to ultimately award titles. To earn the Supreme Grand Champion, a cat must have earned a Best Cat after it earned four Best Champion awards (Quadruple Grand Champion). Every TICA judge presides over his or her own awards for the top ten cats in each group in his or her ring. Because there are more judging rings at a TICA show, there are infinitely more opportunities for awards.

The main groups are: longhair kittens, shorthair kittens, adult whole longhairs, adult whole shorthairs, alter longhairs, alter shorthairs, household pets long hairs, household pets shorthairs, new breeds and new traits.

In all of these groups, all fully grown cats can compete for titles that range from Master to Champion, Grand Champion, Double, Triple and Quadruple Grand Champion and finally Supreme Grand Champion.


The Best of Color award for each cat of a particular color is blue. The runner-up gets red. Third place is yellow, fourth place is green and fifth is white. The judges then select the top three in each Division: (The Divisions are Solid, Tabby, Particolor, Pointed, Mink and Sepia.) The Best of Division receives a black ribbon. Second is purple, and third is orange. Next, the judge selects the top three in the breed. The Best of Breed is gold. Silver ranks second and bronze rates third.

In the final round in each category, rosettes are also given to the Top 10 cats. Like CFA, rosettes can be any color depending on the time of year or the event. For example, Christmas time they are usually red and white.

In the TICA title computation, the finals also count in points toward Regional and International wins.

Both Kay DeVilbiss, President of TICA and Allene Tartaglia, CFA Director of Special Projects agree that the best way to learn the different the awards systems, is to keep going to cat shows!

Both registries have ambassadors/guides at their events wearing buttons that say things like “Ask Me” so that information is readily available. Often the exhibitors, if they are not busy with their cats, are also happy to informally chat.


Cat Shows are the only opportunity most people ever get to see the wonderful variety of feline breeds first hand. Viewing all the different colors and characteristics that make the distinctiveness of the cat world is a true learning experience.


Because both associations are committed to the rescue of pedigreed cats and kittens, adoption booths are a focal point at many events.

“We don’t penalize adopted pedigreed cats that seem to be pedigreed from appearing in the show ring simply because they don’t have the official papers,” says DeVilbiss. “They can compete at cat shows in the Household Pets category.”

Tartaglia believes if you are considering purchasing a particularly breed, a cat show is the best place to learn about personality and temperament to endorse your selection and ensure that your new feline companion will slot comfortably into your lifestyle.


Recently, many cat shows have introduced ICAT events – International Cat Agility Tournaments. These agility tracks are very similar to the ones popularized by dogs and are drawing huge fascinated audiences.

“The cats compete against the clock for the fastest time,” explains DeVilbiss. “They seem to have as much fun as the audience.”

Because of the fair-like atmosphere that exists at these events, shopping is without doubt a highlight. This is a wonderful opportunity to educate yourself about different cat foods and feline products and also to simply indulge in wonderful cat-related accessories and general merchandize. So don’t forget your checkbook and your credit card!


Local newspapers are an excellent source of information about cat shows. Both CFA and TICA also post events on their respective websites. Their calendars detail shows planned for the next couple of years!


This article is from Cats USA

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