International judge Brenda Neukircher tells how it all started for her, and explains how cat shows work and what happens behind the scene.
I bought my first Persian in 1994, a beautiful cream bi-colour called Moofla. I decided he needed a friend so I bought Raff and from there on, it’s all history. I became friendly with the breeders, bought my first show/breeding cat and started showing in 1996. I registered my cattery then too. At that stage there was only one registrar in South Africa, but all that changed soon after I started, when the cat fancy split and the Southern Africa Cat Council (SACC) and Cat Federation of Southern Africa (CFSA) were born. The World Cat Federation now also has a following in South Africa.
So how do you start out?
- Contact the registrars of the organisations, of the breeds that you are interested in and ask for recommendations.
- Look at magazines and pay attention to show results.
- If you see an advert with a website, look at the website and pay attention to the cats, their condition, look for the show pages and gallery of kittens, then phone the breeder and ask questions.
- GO TO A SHOW! You will be able to meet the breeders and see their cats on show.
- Keep contact with the breeder and be patient, the right kitten will come available.
- BEWARE of a sale that sounds ‘too good to be true’ – it usually is!
- Experience has taught me that cheaper from the breeder usually means more expenses at the vet.
Cat shows: What’s involved and how does it work?
Shows are held around the country, generally between March and September of each year as this is when the cats are at their best.
Your breeder would hopefully be your mentor and will be the one to steer you through the completion of your first show entry.
Once you have sent in your form and paid your show fees, you then wait to see the ‘allocation’. An allocation indicates which judges will be judging what breeds on the day of the show. You will also receive your show entry number and a list of instructions for the show.
On the day
Having bathed and cleaned your baby, ensure that you are at the show venue bright and early to bench your cat. And then? Well, then the judging will start.
There are 2 specific groupings of cats: household pets and pedigreed cats. The pedigreed cats are divided further into 4 divisions:
These groups are then divided into males, females, neuters (sterilised males and females) and kittens (a cat between 4 and 9 months of age), and then divided even further (for the most part) into colour divisions: self (or solid), patched, patterned, pointed and silver.
Every single pedigreed breed has a standard written specifically for that breed. The standard describes every aspect of that breed – eyes, ears, nose, neck, paws, body, tail, coat and even the different coat colours, paw pad and nose leather colours, and the acceptable eye colours.
Judging the classes
The judge assesses each exhibit by applying that standard, and awards (or withholds) a certificate. Adults start in the Open class and progress through to the Triple Supreme class which is the highest title any cat can achieve in South Africa. Generally a judge then nominates the best cats for Best in Show, and at the end of the day a ‘Cat of the Day’ will be chosen from all the nominated cats.
Cat of the Year
Most awards, nominations and show achievements will count as points. At the end of the show year, the top cats in each group are invited to participate in the Cat of the Year. At this event the cats are placed and the top cat is announced.
Showing cats is a wonderful hobby. It puts you in contact with so many people who share the same passion as you – your cats. In the August issue Brenda gives tips on how to prepare and show your cat.
Text: Brenda Neukircher. Photography: Anton Gvozdikov
For the full story get the July 2014 issue of Animaltalk magazine. Subscription details are available on Coolmags.com