First Show. Remember? Rational me? I am doing this for experience. Only experience. Jackie (Bear’s breeder) warned me ahead of time, not to expect major things.
“He is just a little one,” she says.
“Oh, don’t worry,” I say, “I am fine with it. Really. He is perfect! I am just getting experience.”
First ring. All excited. Best of Breed, Best of Color, and Best of, “what is that blue ribbon for again?” I am out of my mind I am so excited. My aunt is with me and we are both in tears. “Oh, we knew it. We knew he was perfect!” Hey, I am not afraid to admit it. I WANT RIBBONS. Lots of them. What am I going to do with these plastic things? What do you mean we cannot keep these? Where are the RIBBONS?
I get back to his benching cage, and I look in the show catalog, and I see that he is the ONLY HIMALAYAN! Oh, he… is… the only Himalayan… the only Himalayan… hmmm… I have a public relations and marketing background. O.K., great! I can tell everyone he was THE BEST HIMALAYAN in every ring! See, that is a positive spin. I am not lying… I am being positive and looking positively toward the future. I call Ed (Hubby Extraordinaire) from the show, and tell him, “Guess what? He was the best Himalayan in every ring.” Remember, I am trying to sell him on ‘the three of us going to shows together’ scenario. A little selective information is not a bad thing!
A few weeks ago, I took Ed to his first cat show! Our second, Bear and I, and Ed’s first. I am so excited. He can see a cat show. We are together. My plan is in place. What a great time we are all going to have. Also, he can drive, and the cat and I can sleep. Good plan. Teamwork at its best.
I am finally getting the hang of this show bath thing. Get up at 4:45 a.m. to bathe and blow dry him. I am done. I have a SHOW CAT! I am so proud. I run into the bedroom. It is now 6:30. The cat looks great. I look like I have been through a windstorm in the Mojave Desert, sweating, from the heat, and I am carrying the cat like a prize turkey. The cat’s ears are waaay back. I flip on the lights, and go,” Look, does he not look great?! I am finally getting the hang of it.”
God love Ed, he rolls over, opens one eye, and says, “Yup, he looks perfect, all poofy. Go get ready so I can go back to sleep for another half hour and turn off the lights.” I laugh. What kind of a word is “poofy?”
In the car, on the way to the show, I decided that I cannot spend my whole time in the back seat of the car entertaining the cat. Have you ever sat in the backseat of your car, by the way? I think when selecting a car, you should try it out by sitting in the BACK SEAT and not the front. Anyways, I am going to teach Bear a lesson. HE IS A SHOW CAT. He has to learn that I cannot sit in the back seat with him and entertain him. He cannot have his way all of the time. How hard can this be? We have him in a small cat carrier. Not a good thing. About 15 minutes before we are supposed to arrive at the show, Bear starts yelling at the top of his lungs. I am going, “Deal with it. We are almost there. I am not letting you out.”
Ed is looking at me, and says, “See, see how much you spoil him?”
I roll my eyes and say nothing. We finally get there. It takes what seems like an hour and a five mile walk to find our row. We have so much stuff that it honestly looks like we are moving in for a week. You all know the new dance? It is called, ‘Putting The Cat Show Curtains on the Cage’ dance (the PTCSCOTC). I put the carrier down, take a big deep breath, getting psyched to perform my own special rendition of the ‘PTCSCOTC’ two-step. I smell something not good. He pooped on his blanket in his carrier. Thank God it is the $5 baby blanket and not the good $75 hand embroidered, baby blanket, with kittens on it that I bid on and won at a humane society fundraiser. Some smart part of me knew better. Mind you, we can only LOOK at that humane society blanket. No sitting on it.
Back to the poop. It is not the good kind of poop… Noooooooo, it is the bad kind of icky, smelly, runny, poop. Now, I’ve rehearsed this in my mind. Done a debrief, ran through the procedure with friends. I AM A PROFESSIONAL.
How hard can this be?
It is a part of show cat life. No big deal. He is a Persian. Sometimes, they “poop their drawers.” I am trying not to cry. I am trying not to hyperventilate. I am practicing deep breathing, doing my best, trying not to get flustered and Bear flustered. We don’t need more runny poop. I take a big deep breath, hand the blanket that he pooped on to Ed, and go, “Here, put this in the car. Take the poop off first.” You don’t think that with my new outfit, fresh manicure, and hair and makeup in place that I would select that task, do you? Teamwork, remember, t-e-a-m-w-o-r-k that is what it is all about!
Ed, at his first show, chooses that time to start about “How there is no room for anyone else to walk. Why is my stuff all over the aisle, we need to get it out of the aisle (which is a half a mile wide by the way! The place is huge. He has never been to a cat show and now is the aisle police!)… What I am going to do with that or that? How come there is only one chair? Where is the wastebasket? How do the curtains go? Do these even fit? Get the rug in first before you put the food in. You are spilling the water bottle…”.
I am trying not to get upset because I do not want to upset Bear anymore. He does not like to poop either, I am sure, in a cage, on a ($5) blanket. I am upset that I did not distinguish between the ‘I am spoiled and need attention cry,’ and the ‘Look, lady, I gotta go now, cry.’ I briefly turn him over and see that ‘lo and behold’ he has pooped on himself a little bit as well-and… there is a little bit of blood which happens when he holds it (don’t ask!). Trying not to panic. I stick him back in the carrier. I know, I have to work fast, because he poops in threes (Again, do not ask!). We had one poop early this morning before we left, one now, and we have one poop to go and he is in the carrier!
I get everything all unpacked, which you know, is worse than unpacking your house after you have moved ten thousand miles. I stick him in his cage as fast as I can, not worrying about the poop on him. One thing at a time. Ed, bless his heart, still does not get it–I am on a mission— get the poop out of him, so we can get him cleaned up and begin our day…He chooses that time to ask me-AGAIN–what I am doing with Bear’s carrier, what I am doing with the other half of my crap that is out in the aisle….and I look at him, if looks could kill, with a dead calm voice, a smile plastered on my face, and clenched teeth, speaking one word at a time… (because we cannot upset Bear and we cannot have people around us thinking that we are raving lunatics…) and say, “I am doing one thing at a time. I am going to put everything under the cage. Just one minute because I am waiting for him to poop again so that I can clean that up and him up at the same time… He obviously held it for a bit too long because we have not had any trouble with blood and now I am a bit worried… I need to do one thing at a time… Please, go and put the blanket in the car… and… wash off the poop…”
Bear, poops, now it is diarrhea. It doesn’t count. We are not done yet! I know it is because he got upset… Still trying not to panic… I take him out clean him up. He is not happy with getting cleaned. I clean him as fast as I can, put him back in the cage and go and find some new toys for him to play with. Ed comes back with two toys also. Very good! After 18 years I have learned that screaming at your spouse in public is not a good thing to do. It accomplishes nothing and people think you are really crazy! As you can see, my train of thought pays off!
See, this is easy! It is not hard!! Look at us! We have a SHOW CAT!!
Good news! Bear pooped again. This time a normal poop, and I knew we were back in business. I do not have kids. I did not want to clean poop. Here I am. When my friends would talk about poop-I would just laugh!! I have never thought about, talked about, or worried about poop so much in my life. I just mention poop and my friends are hysterical
I cannot wait for the next show. When is the next show? This weekend. It is in my hometown, all of my friends and family are coming to see Bear. Oh, great! He has kitty groupies! This is not hard, not really! I get it!! It takes practice, patience, teamwork, not to mention a cat who puts up with our fussing and poofing (my new word).
I am sitting on my computer in my office and I hear Ed talking to Bear. Yup, he is actually talking to the cat. Well, after all, teammates talk. I go to my office door, lean out, and listen. Ed is telling Bear how spoiled he is and how lucky we are to have him
All is well.
Even if cat show thing was the hardest thing on earth, and even if Bear never earns a ribbon, it is, in the end, just the three of us, and I know this for sure, that no matter what happens, good or bad, it is all worth it.
Jodell and her Himalayan kitten, “Bear”, share more stories of their first forays into the world of cat showing: