All About Cat Shows

The Cat Show Process: Awards

This Persian cat came in fourth best of breed and received two Winner's Ribbons at the CFA International Cat Show.
This Persian cat came in fourth best of breed and received two Winner's Ribbons at the CFA International Cat Show.
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Each cat show consists of various individual judging rings. Because each ring has a judge, and each judge gives out awards, cats might win certain awards in one ring, but not in another ring. Different shows give out different awards, but the CFA explains the major ones.

Starting with the open categories, a judge will inspect and award first (blue), second (red) and third (yellow) place ribbons to males, and then to the females. Usually, the first-place cats also get a winner's ribbon (which are striped red, white and blue). After a cat wins six winner's ribbons in the open category, it earns the title of champion, and goes on to compete against other champions. After champions earn 200 points, they become grand champions [source: CFA].

Altered cats go through a similar process but compete for premiership. In this class, a cat becomes a premier after six winner's ribbons and becomes a grand premier after earning 75 points [source: CFA].

The kittens (altered or unaltered) who haven't reached the age of eight months compete for first through third place, but don't get winner's or best-of-breed ribbons. Household pets cannot win these awards either. Rather, judges give merit awards (red and white striped ribbons) to household pets.

After a judge has evaluated the open category, he will go on to judge champions and premiers. With the sexes still separated, the judges award first, second and third places to males and then to females. He does the same thing after moving on to grand champions and grand premiers. The awards are as follows:

  • Best-of-color class (black ribbon) and second best-of-color class (white ribbon): If judges inspected cats separated into color groups, which is customary in a specialty show, the judge evaluates the males and females together, giving out these two awards.
  • Best-of-breed or division (brown ribbon) and second best-of-breed or division (orange ribbon): These awards are presented after a judge evaluates all colors of a breed (or a particular division of the show).
  • Best champion/premier of breed or division (purple ribbon): The judge focuses only on the champions or only the premiers for this award. Winning this award can help a champion earn points toward becoming a grand champion. The best champion gets a point for every champion it defeated, and likewise for premiers who could potentially become grand premiers.

Lastly, a judge holds finals, where the judge's top ten favorite cats get rosette ribbons.

When cats compete in the "big leagues" of cat shows, all-breed shows such as the CFA-Iams Cat Championship, they aspire to the highest award of all: best-in-show. Some all-breed shows incorporate a competition for household pets as well.

After learning about all these awards and considering the different rings, it's understandable why cat shows can get so hectic and usually span two days. If you feel your cat has what it takes to show off, you might be surprised how much hard work and dedication it will demand. Learn about what's involved in entering and competing in a cat show on the next page.