The Premier Online Magazine devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats
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The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.


The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.

My First Show

I was a new British Shorthair breeder and exhibitor. I was going to my first cat show with kittens. Concerned about punctuality, I located the show hall the evening before the show. Now it was morning and a very green, nervous newbie with arms full of cats and cat stuff, confirmation letter pinched between fingers like an admission ticket, I arrived minutes past check-in — only to find there was no ticket collector checking off names and pointing out directions. I blindly followed the flow of people meandering between rows of cages, searching for my name. Someone yelled names were posted on a chart near the front of the hall… and the flow reversed towards the entrance. No chart faced the door… but an eagle-eyed someone spotted it on a column… facing the concession stand, of course.

I found my place, set down my meowing load and stood holding an expanse of fabric and scissors. While perplexedly studying surrounding cages decked like miniature theaters, a fairy godmother appeared to help me dress my cage for the ball. She had to hurry, though, because at the stroke of ten minutes she’d have to clerk for a judge. A few waves of her wand of experience transformed my cage into a respectable receptacle — then she poofed, vanished and was gone.

As I finished propping the new scene, an unknown friend suggested I memorize my cats’ numbers. I agreed, asking “how do I find what my cats’ numbers are?”

“It’s in your Catalogue.”

“Oh. Where do I get a Catalogue?”

“You have no Catalogue? Then you’re not officially checked in yet! You’d better get one before the judges mark you absent!”

“Uh-oh! where are they?”

“Why, the entry clerk should’ve marked you down when you arrived and given you one.”

Arrghh! Raced back to the front, entrance where there now was not one but two entry clerks. Got my Catalogue and flooded with relief to be officially present at last. Returned to sit by my cats and await my now-memorized numbers to be called. Heard a call to groom kittens. Having no prior awareness of the existence of portable grooming tables, I reached for a brush into my cage.

Heard my numbers called to a ring. Jumped up, loaded kittens into my arms, raced to ring, placed kittens in designated cages, took place among spectators. Watched in fascination as the judge felt along tails, opened mouths, examined ears, ran fingers through fur and teased with toys, punctuating each task with writing notes. Beamed at seeing ribbons placed by my cats and waited for the judging to be done. And waited. Others removed their cats, but I remained waiting to be told it was okay. When I was the lone soul seated, someone whispered, “When the judge turns down your number it’s okay to remove your cat.”

Blushing, I lunged for my cats then hesitated at the cages. I’d read to “not take the hard plastic ribbons,” but had visualized “plastic” as picnic utensil material, not laminated ribbons. The clerk immediately educated me and retrieved the stolen ribbon. I asked about the remaining ribbons. “Uh, well, you can take ’em if you want… most folks don’t… they really don’t mean anything.” Hmmm… came to show kittens for ribbons; got ribbons; ribbons meaningless. Took meaningless ribbons from subsequent rings anyway.

Spent most of show benched, straining to discern my numbers among raffle ticket numbers relentlessly blaring from the loudspeaker. Every person I handed aspirin to agreed raffle ticket drawings should occur at designated times and not be interspersed among calls to the judging rings.

The breeder of one of my kittens unexpectedly showed up to see how “her” kitten was doing. She asked what judges had seen the kitten, and I honestly couldn’t remember judges’ names. “What!,” she shrieked, “Haven’t you been marking in your Catalogue?”

“Uh… I didn’t know I was supposed to be marking anything.” She snatched the Catalogue, ordered me to watch her purse and went off visiting the judges. She returned with a marked Catalogue, but left me clueless about what the markings meant. Sigh.

My daughter and her friend brought me lunch, and as they’d never been to a cat show before, they combed the aisles to see the various breeds. They later reported that while most exhibitors were willing to discuss their cats, they found that the friendliest among them were “newbies” like me.

I met two ladies showing the same breed as I who were wonderfully nice and didn’t mind my hanging around them a while. I bought some grooming products they recommended and some nifty cat toys. A member of our own special CFA Mentoring Group here introduced herself and also was nice. I briefly met my mentor, and guess what? She’s super nice! (Let’s face it — we’re a great bunch!)

Am I discouraged? No way! When I’m more sure about what I’m doing and less dependent on others, I’m sure the fun will begin. I’m told my second show will be less hectic because it’s spread out over two days, and I’m looking forward to it.

I’d arrived at my first show fully expecting it to be a feet-wetting experience. I hadn’t expected the water to be quite so cool — but I’m diving in anyway.

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The British Shorthair is the pedigreed version of the traditional British domestic cat, with a distinctively stocky body, dense coat, and broad face. The most familiar color variant is the “British Blue”, with a solid grey-blue coat, orange eyes, and a medium-sized tail. The breed has also been developed in a wide range of other colors and patterns, including tabby and colorpoint.