The Importance of Showing

By Emily Greene, CitizenKat / Destynys Sphynx,,

This article may not be reproduced without permission and credit must be given to author.

Originally written 2013, with updates in 2017



Where else can you go and guarantee 100% of the people will be as in love with cats as you are? A CAT SHOW! 
Whether you go as an exhibitor or as a spectator, cat shows have a lot to offer. There are many beautiful cats, the excitement of the competition, the camaraderie, and lots of shopping for cat paraphernalia.
As a pet owner, you may wonder “Why should I care if a breeder shows?” Everyone who owns a pedigreed animal should care if breeders show. Showing cats is one of the most important tools to make a breeder the best he/she can be. True fanciers care about the trifecta: health, type and temperament. Shows are an unbiased way to ensure the breeder is maintaining and striving towards proper type. Some shows have seminars about health and genetics and health clinics for HCM scanning.

The premise of a cat show is to ensure the cats are in good condition, excellent examples of their breed and have no disqualifying structural faults.  All pedigreed cats are judged by an expert that has been trained on all breed standards.  This is an official document written by the breeders to define the breed’s look. This standard is what makes each breed distinct and different from any other breed.  It is what keeps a Persian looking different than a Russian Blue; a Sphynx from looking like a Peterbald; a Birman from looking like a Siamese. While not every cat needs to be show ring perfect, every breeding should start off with that as the goal so the unique look of the Sphynx is not lost.
The shows are the best place for breeders to expand their knowledge. Understanding a breed standard without seeing the cats visually in person is almost next to impossible. In my 10 years of showing, I have noticed there is usually a huge gap in type knowledge between those that do show and those that do not. There is simply no replacement for seeing cats in person and hearing the experts talk about the cats in the final when they announce their picks for best cats and why. Internet photos are not always accurate or show the presence of the cat. Imagine the first time you saw a wild animal like a tiger, elephant, or a monkey in person. The physical presence and being in the same space is as the animal is an experience. Yes, photos can capture the beauty of many things, however being in the same physical space has such an impact.
These events also test the cat’s personality under duress.  For those that have shown, most have experienced taking a Sphynx that is “oh so sweet” at home; but then the cat unfortunately acts like a wild tiger at the show. It is an important goal is to have a Sphynx amenable to handling while at the show.

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Watching other breeds get judged and commented on is surprisingly educational as well. Visualizing what a Sphynx is not supposed to look like is extremely helpful. This sounds odd, but seeing the round forehead of a Persian whereas a Sphynx is supposed to have flat forehead; high ears on a Cornish Rex while a Sphynx ears are on the corner of their head; or the oval eyes on a Devon while a Sphynx eye is supposed to be lemon-shaped.  A Persian breeder let me feel her cat's domed head and it was remarkable how different it was than a Sphynx head. It these "little" experiences adding up that help us learn. 
Cat shows are a good place to meet people and make friends with those who have extensive experience with cats. Sharing experience and knowledge will help make people better pet owners and breeders.
For pet owners, I highly recommend attending local shows. First, it is a great way to meet local breeders in person and make connections if you are considering purchasing a kitten or cat. Secondly, it is a great way to purchase quality handmade items such as top quality cat trees, cat beds and toys. The quality and prices are usually better than those at chain pet stores.
Some pet owners may want to take it one step further–and show!!!  If you own a show quality cat, it is fun and rewarding for pet owners to show their Sphynx.  It is an excellent way to bond with your cat and meet others who share your interest in felines. Unlike the dog-world, TICA offers a competitive class for spayed and neutered pets. Watching your cat in the ring can be so rewarding and fun.  If you have a serious interest in showing, you should contact a breeder who does show fairly successfully so that breeder can assist you in selecting one that will do reasonably well at the shows.
Cat shows help the local community and rescues. At most cat shows, there are booths with adoptable rescues, items for sale that benefit the rescue.  A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Kendall Yahr at a Midwest TICA show. Not only is Kendall a proud Sphynx owner, she was representing a purebred rescue booth at the show.  They rescue all types of purebreds, including approximately 15 Sphynx a year.
Kendall enjoys going to cat shows and said this:
"Being at the cat shows helps our purebred rescue in several ways. Our biggest deal is that the people who might be looking for purebred cats are more likely to be at a cat show. Many would prefer to "rescue" an animal over buying one.  The cat shows help us get our name out there, help us raise much needed funds, and allows us to keep an open dialog with breeders. Many do not actually think that any of their cats could ever end up in a shelter type situation...only they can, and do. 
For me, I like the fact that I can talk to the breeders at these shows, and show them that "rescue" does not mean that we all think breeders are bad. We are not raiding catteries, bad mouthing responsible breeders, or trying to take business away from them. I refer people to the responsible breeders I know because of these shows. 

For sphynx owners and breeders, shows are events that are educational, social, fun and exciting. It is one of the rare places where all the people are obsessed with felines. I have been showing for 10 years now and I love it. It has benefited me immensely in knowledge and long lasting friendships. Go ahead… attend a show… you may soon be addicted as many of us are!

Lou Ann Vennettilli , Sphynx Breed Secretary for the Canadian Cat Association, states it is important to show for a few different reasons:
-It helps establish connections with other breeders. 
-It helps you to see if you are on the right track in your breeding program since you can see how your cat competes with others and what the judges think of your type.
-It helps you to make contacts for future sales since I do like to meet the people that I place my kittens with.
-It helps your association and the clubs by giving your support.
The cat shows are too political and unfair. If you have a cat that meets the standard and you are persistent, your cat will do well. One weekend your cat may do well and get some finals, the next it could be different competition and your cat gets awarded less finals. It is important to remember that this is a journey and not to focus too much on one show. If your cat gets few awards or none, you may want to talk to an experienced breeder who does well at the shows or a judge to ascertain why.   As much as I hate to admit it, it is naïve to say there are absolutely no politics at cat shows. However having a good show cat and persistence will overcome this. 
My cats will pick up diseases and germs from cat shows. At the shows, precautions are taken by the judges washing the table and their hands between each cat. Generally, most cats at the shows are healthy and are required to be healthy. You can also take precautions by having hand sanitizer for people if they want to pet your cat. Wash all your garments and show materials immediately when getting home to minimize risk of germs. If one sees a sick cat, take photos or video and report it to show management.
I can learn all I need from yahoo groups or the internet. A photo can be deceptive and is not the same as seeing cats at the show. Being popular on facebook does not equate to quality.
I do not have time to go to the cat shows. We make time for what we really want to do. To be immersed in the shows, you do not need to go more than 4-6 shows a year. A true fancier makes some time to participate in shows.