For the CFA, a cat show consists of several simultaneous shows going on in different rings, each with a different judge. Usually, regional specialty cat shows only include cats from a particular breed or color division. On the other hand, cats can compete against other breeds in all-breed shows. The owners receive a cage number and find their benched cage, where they wait to be called to the judges' rings. When called, the owner brings the cat to the cages in each of the different rings for judges to take the cat out out, inspect it and rate it. Each ring has a ring clerk and a ring steward who help everything run smoothly by maintaining records, calling numbers and keeping cages clean between cats. Each cat show also has a master clerk to keep records organized.
The process and awards a cat gets depend on which class it is in. The classes are:
- Championship: Cats that are not spayed or neutered who are at least eight months old compete for championship titles in this class.
- Premiership: Spayed or neutered cats that would otherwise qualify for competing in the championship class compete for premier titles.
- Provisional: This class includes cat breeds that the CFA has not yet fully recognized. The CFA accepts breeds into this class temporarily on their road to full championship status. If a cat is of a breed in this class, it can compete to win Best of Breed but cannot go on to finals.
- Kitten: Cats in this class are between four and eight months old (regardless of whether they are spayed or neutered).
- Miscellaneous: This includes breeds that have not yet achieved provisional status. Although owners can exhibit these breeds at shows, they cannot compete for awards.
- Veteran: Cats in this class are at least seven years old. However, owners have the choice to enter these cats in other qualifying classes as well.
- Household pet: Any cat that has not been declawed but has been spayed or neutered after eight months can enter this class.
In a specialty show, cats compete against others of the same sex and coat color first. After cats reach eight months old, an unaltered cat (not spayed or neutered) starts competition in the open category in the championship class. An altered cat (spayed or neutered cat) enters the open category for premiership class.
On the next page, we'll discuss what the awards at a cat show mean and how a cat claws its way up the show ladder.