Do you know when you should and shouldn’t talk in the judging ring?
Do you know when you can and can’t speak to a judge?
Do you know when you should just shush?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you should. Understanding when to speak or not speak to a judge is an important part of cat show etiquette. Generally speaking, common sense would dictate that an exhibitor should never speak directly to a judge while the judge is working in the ring. More specifically, most registries have clauses in their show rules that addresses limits or guidelines regarding verbal interaction between exhibitors and judges. For this article, we will examine the relevant show rules in CFA, The Cat Fanciers’ Association:
CFA Show Rule 27.05 states that: A judge must not permit exhibitors to talk to him while performing his duties
How often have you noticed a judge chatting to another exhibitor while judging another exhibitor’s cat? Not only is this poor form, implying that the judge is not focusing on the cat on the table, but it is actually against the show rules. Never speak to a judge while they are judging a cat.
CFA Show Rule 28.02 states that: Judges are not required to discuss entries with exhibitors
It is important for every exhibitor to understand that no judge is required to discuss their opinion of your cat or to explain their placements with an exhibitor. While most judges are happy to give you a more detailed evaluation of your cat if you ask politely, always remember that they are extending to you a courtesy.
If you want to discuss your entry with a judge, wait until there is a break in the judging, or preferably, speak to the judge after the judge has completed their ring for the day. You can then approach the judge after their finals and ask if you could speak with them about your cat. You may want to ask if you could bring your cat up to the ring and perhaps go over it together. Some judges are happy to do this. Others may not be or have a plane to catch and don’t have the time.
Asking a judge to discuss with you their evaluation of your cat should be a learning experience. Your aim should be clearly the desire to learn more about how the judge viewed your cat’s strengths and weaknesses. Never ask to speak to a judge with the intent to attack them for their opinion of your cat. This is a no-win approach.
CFA Show Rules 11.26 and 28.08 states that: Exhibitors must not make any comments on exhibits within the judge’s hearing or challenge the judge’s decision.
Not all cat fanciers get along with every other exhibitor — especially if they are in direct competition. One of the most obvious signs of poor sportsmanship is when an exhibitor makes loud negative comments about their competitor’s cat at ringside during judging. It is shameful behavior — and it is against the rules. In fact, if someone behaves this way, you can file a protest against them with CFA.
CFA Show Rules 11.28 and 28.09 states that: Exhibitors must not solicit the opinion of non-officiating judges at any show
I bet you didn’t know this rule… If a judge is at a show as an exhibitor, not a judge, and they are benched next to you, it would seem a perfect opportunity to ask them what they think of your new kitten. Unfortunately, were you to do that, you would be breaking a show rule. It is against the rules to ask a non-officiating judge to look at your new kitten at the show. It’s a definite no-no that few exhibitors know. Of course, when not at the show, you are free to discuss your kitten with the exhibitor/judge.
So… I hope you now have a better idea of when you can talk… and when you must shush!