Have you ever wondered how a future judge becomes familiar with the different breeds of cats they will eventually handle in the judging ring? Does a judge have to show and raise every breed? How does a judge learn everything s/he needs to know? Where the heck do new judges come from?
New judges come from the breeders ranks, and must fulfill stringent requirements before being accepted as a CFA judging applicant. The CFA Judging program consists of many aspects designed to educate the judge applicant, and to give him/her the best knowledge base possible. All applicants bring into the judging program their own experiences and knowledge of the breeds they have worked with, but as a judge, each applicant is expected to know all of the breeds and their written standards. To help fill the all breed well of knowledge needed, the CFA judging committee initiated the concept of “Cattery Visits”. What better way to learn about a breed than a one-on-one, relaxed visit in a home/cattery?
Kathy Black, a CFA Allbreed judge best known for her Foxykats Somalis, has also bred and shown many breeds — from Maine Coons to Chartreux and Turkish Vans. In this article she shares her experience of visiting the home of Jon and Kathy Durdick, Ristokat Himalayans in Vancouver, Washington. Kathy’s visit was part of the requirements she completed to become an Allbreed judge in CFA.
The Cattery Visit
by Kathy Black, CFA Allbreed Judge, Foxykats Cattery
What a cattery visit should be:
- An opportunity to handle a variety of cats in a relaxed atmosphere.
- A cattery visit provides a friendly situation to chat with an experienced breeder about their breed.
- A a cattery visit is a wonderful teaching tool for the judging applicant.
What a cattery visit is not:
- It is not for the applicant to see every cat.
- It is not for the applicant to critique the cats, or give his/her opinion about your cats.
- It is not to see how the cattery is designed, how many cats, living conditions, or anything similar to this.
- Not all cats handled in a visit need to be Grand Champions or show quality. In fact the non-stellar examples are just as good of a teaching tool as the top show cats.
During the visit:
- The judging applicant will hand 4-10 cats, all ages, all levels of quality.
- The judging applicant and the breeder have an informal chat about the breed.
- The things that I find most fascinating during my cattery visits are the little tidbits about the breed: Discussions of color, kittens as they mature, handling, coat texture and length, etc.
- The visits can last as long as the breeder will put up with us :-). There is no time minimum, except to gain as much knowledge as one can. Most cattery visits last around 1-2 hours.
These little bits of information will later be put to use in the ring, as we evaluate each cat. It brings the standard to life.
How does the judge choose which cattery to visit?
- The host breeder needs to be a registered cattery owner and a current breed council member for the breed being viewed by the judge applicant.
- All shorthair applicants are required to make 8 cattery visits, preferably with to a selection of catteries with cat breeds with a wide range in body types, and breeds other than the judge applicant’s primary breed they are known for.
- Longhair judging applicants are required to make visits to 6 different breeders of LH cats.
- While the fun part of a cattery visit is always handling of the cats and chatting with their breeder, there is always the paperwork at the end of the day :-). The applicant must fill out a form to be sent to CFA. The form requires the cattery number, a listing of the cats handled and viewed, and the cattery owner’s signature.
- The Judging committee also prefers to see photographs taken of the applicant handling the cats.
If you are approached by a judging applicant wanting to visit your cattery, think of it as an honor. Spend as much time as you have with the applicant. Share your knowledge of the breed. This will give the applicant the best possible base for his/her future judging career.
Having a Judging Applicant Visit Your Cattery
by Kathy Durdick, Ristokat Himalayans
I had never had a judge ask to visit my cattery before. My first reaction was surprise, followed quickly by curiosity. I had, of course, heard people mention “cattery visits”, but had no idea what was really involved in one.
While one could say jokingly that a cattery visit is the breeder’s opportunity to teach everything they know about their breed in 30 minutes or less, the truth is that a cattery visit is an invaluable opportunity for a breeder to share their knowledge and accomplishments with future judges.
What impressed me was not only Kathy’s knowledge about the breed standard, but her confidence in handling my cats… and her obvious enjoyment of the kitties.
It was quite an interesting experience. I was able to show her 5 generations of cats, starting with our foundation queen — now retired and ruling the roost. I think Kathy found that rather interesting, to see the development and the changes with each generation.
Most of my cats now are lynx points. Kathy said she really don’t see many down in her region, so the opportunity to see several of them, of different colors and styles, was a learning experience. I was able to share with her several tips about lynx points, and what to look for, especially if she one day has the chance to judge flame or cream lynx points, which I think is still a very tough color for the judges to determine.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit, not only since it is an opportunity to share some of my knowledge and experience with a future judge, but after all, it’s always fun to talk about our fur-kids.