Spectators are a wonderful part of the cat show experience.
- They pay admission — which helps support the Cat Club.
- They purchase cat toys and supplies — pleasing the vendors.
- They are a potential source of kitten sales.
- If there is a humane society present with kittens, the chances of placing kitties is increased.
- They are the source of future exhibitors.
- And finally… spectators root for their favorite cats and increase the energy and excitement in the show hall.
Of course, spectators can also be a source of annoyance for the exhibitors, especially if the gate is large but the show hall is small. If the spectators are noisy, ring calls may be difficult to hear. Traffic to the rings may be congested. And the number of inane questions asked increases with the number of people present too ;-). Regardless of the inconvenience though, part of being a good exhibitor and a good representative of the cat fancy is for all exhibitors to know how best to deal with spectators in a way that makes everyone happy.
Protect Your Cat
Your number one priority is to protect your cat.
- Petting Allowed: If you are going to allow strangers to pet your cat, have a hand disinfectant available for them to use. If your cat is tired, or not docile enough to be handled by an inexperienced person, don’t hesitate to say no when asked — but be nice about it.
- No Petting Allowed: Many exhibitors prefer not to have spectators touch their cat at all. A cat show can be stressful enough. The last thing your cat might want is an inexperienced person handling them improperly or risking the spread of disease from cat to spectator to cat.
- Do Not Touch Signs: A popular way to inform spectators that you do not allow touching of your cat is to place a sign on your cage stating your policy. A sign can simply say “Please, Do Not Touch”, or it can mean the same thing but said in a cute way. Some examples are:
- Please Don’t Pet me, Even If I Ask:
- Please Don’t Touch. I don’t bite but my owner might!
The Security Cage
Security cages have become popular with many exhibitors. Whether made of wood and glass or fabric and mesh, security cages prevent casual touching of the cats by spectators. Some security cages can be locked, providing your feline with extra protection.
Children At The Cat Show often don’t understand the rules or why petting might cause a problem. They may not be able to read a sign or understand its meaning. If a child does go ahead and touch your cat regardless of a sign, please be nice about how you give them a reprimand. Perhaps you hand them a teaser so they can play with the cat without actually touching it. Gently explain why they cannot pet your cat. Never get angry or speak too sharply to a child.
Protect Your Valuables
Next to protecting your cat, you need to also protect your valuables. Keep purses, wallets, cameras and other valuables well out of sight. Place them in a cat carrier, face the door away from you and place it under the benching table your cage is resting upon. I always recommend that your benching cage skirt reach to the floor. It looks tidier and covers everything under the table. You can also put small items in the cage with your cat, under a bed or mat. Expensive grooming items such as scissors can be slipped under a towel or grooming mat in your grooming space.
Protect Your Neighbors
Be a good neighbor. When you are at your benching cage and your neighbor is up at the ring or away from their space, keep your eye on their stuff too. When setting up your cage at the start of the show, introduce yourself to the other people in your aisle and suggest that your watch each others cats when they are left alone.
Keep your chair as close towards your cage as possible to allow the aisle to remain clear. This helps exhibitors and spectators alike to move more easily through the show hall and keeps the traffic flowing smoothly.
Keep Your Area Clean & Tidy
A messy grooming table filled with used tissues, hair balls and the like leaves a very poor impression with the public. So Don’t Litter. Clean up! Have a small bag handy to put your garbage in until you have a chance to dispose of it. Dirty litter pans are offensive. Clean them immediately. Place dirty litter into a plastic zip lock bag to contain odor before disposing of it. If you have a whole male with smelly urine, have an odor-neutralizing spray handy and use it frequently. Nothing creates a poorer impression than a stinky cage area.
A smile goes a long way to making spectators enjoy the cat show experience.
Be A Good Listener
If you have good people skills, it is always nice to ask a visitor who stops by your cage about their love of cats and let them tell you about their own kitty. If you would rather not be bothered, you can avoid cage-side chit-chat by reading a book, knitting or looking occupied in a dozen other ways that discourage conversation.
A cat show provides you with an ideal opportunity to promote your breed and to help educate the public. Information about neutering/spaying, responsible ownership and breed literature are all things you can have available to hand out to interested spectators.
Be An Ambassador
There is no way of knowing how your behavior might encourage and influence a spectator to become a supporter of cats and their cat breeders. You may be at the show to get those last grand points — but it may be your casual interaction with a spectator that changes their impression of cat breeders and their hobby. Always remember — you are an ambassador for the cat fancy.