Household Pets - Tips for New Exhibitors
by Kendall Smith, Household Pet scorekeeper for the Northwest Region
ENTERING THE SHOW
You can find a list of upcoming CFA cat shows on the CFA show calendar - the show flyer gives all the information about the show and who to contact. The Entry Clerk is the person to contact about entering the show.
Fill in the entry blank and the summary sheet, and mail them with a check to the Entry Clerk. If you don't know the parents of your cat, write in "unknown." Sometimes the summary sheet will be on the back of the flyer; if you cut it off to send it, you lose information. Make a photocopy of it instead. Where it says, Benching Request, write in, "New HHP exhibitor, will need help."
Make reservations for a motel room or RV park. Be aware of how long it will take you to get to the show, and note the starting time. Make reservations accordingly.
ITEMS YOU WILL NEED
A cage and a chair or chairs are provided. The cage for one cat is approximately 2' Deep x 2' Wide x 2' High (although some areas of the country have different cages - please check the show flier for specific details). This is why you will want a double cage; it will give you 2 more feet in width (2x4x2). You will need "cage curtains." Basically, you have to cover the two sides, the back, and the top of the cage. You will also want something for the bottom. For beginners, an inexpensive single flat sheet can be made to fit the sides, back, and top. Add a matching colored towel for the bottom. If you sew, let your creativity show. Artistically, you want the cat to look good against the curtains. A cat bed can be purchased from a pet store, or you can wait and check out the vendors at the show.
The cat should be transported in a plastic carrier. Use a plastic shoe box or Ziploc plastic box for a litter pan in the carrier, if there is room. Unless you are traveling a really long distance, the cat doesn’t need food or water in the carrier.
You should also bring: litter pan (for show cage and motel), litter, bowls for food and water, cat food, bottled water, kleenex, paper towels, "grooming kit" (see below), people munchies, ice chest for people drinks/snacks, plastic trash sacks (8 gal will take care of almost anything), cash for food and drink, reading material/cards/puzzle books, and battery-operated fans for you and the cat if it's in summer. I use a 10 gallon plastic box that I put all the miscellaneous stuff in.
Essentially, your space is the area in front of the cage, 4' wide, and the area under your cage, 4' wide and 2' deep. If you would like an area to eat on, if more than one of you will be sitting by the cage, or if you just need some sprawl space, also order and pay for a groom space. If you do order a groom space, you will want something to cover it like a tablecloth. The groom area is the same as a cage space, 2' x 4' x 2', but flat.
This will grow as you get more experienced. Start off with a flea comb (use Extra Fine for a shorthair, Fine for a longhair), cat toenail scissors, nose hair scissors (human type with rounded ends, but used for trimming), Q-tips, variety of safety pins, small binder clips, pens, and small cat toys (sparkle or crinkle balls). You will eventually want to carry small bottles of dry bath, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, anti-static, Febreze, and Ozium or similar odor neutralizer.
Everyone does it differently. It will take some experimentation to find what works best for you and yours. This is what I do: the Friday before the show, I clip the nails on all 4 feet of each cat. I bathe the shorthair cats in the morning in the kitchen sink. You want to use a shampoo for the cat's color. Start with the small size. It will last a long time. Wet down, shampoo, rinse very very well. Dry with a towel, then turn loose to air dry (unless it's a longhair, then you want to bathe the cat the evening before the show; and you need to blow dry with a hand blow dryer; comb all the time you’re drying). Friday evening, I use Q-tips to clean out the ears. Also check the toenails. Some cats get greasy, dirty nails, especially on the back feet.
At the show, before each ring, be sure the cat's bottom is clean. Water on a paper towel can be used for cleaning bottoms and paw pads. Also check the eye crevasses next to the nose. Sometimes grit gets in that area. A kleenex is good for eye grit and nose boogies (I just couldn't think of any other description). Run a comb through all the hair on the cat, including the tail. What you want to put into the ring is a pristine clean, happy cat.
AT THE SHOW
Plan to arrive at least one hour before the judging begins (this info is on the flyer). You will have to check in, locate your cage, and set it up (put up cage curtains, etc). For your first show, I would recommend getting there at the beginning of check in. Once you’re familiar with set-up, you can plan on being there one hour before the show starts. This allows the cat to relax a little bit, and you to settle in.
At check in, you will receive a catalog. Do not lose this. Do not be afraid to say, "I'm new, can you point us toward our cage, please?" Once you've located the cage, set it up for the cat. Put a litter pan, familiar litter, and a bed or hammock in the cage. Once you have the cat in the cage, place a little dry food and a very little water to settle him/her down. Give him/her a familiar toy.
Then look through the catalog and locate your cat's name and number. Each entry will have a number by which it will be identified all weekend. Household Pets are listed almost last. On the back cover you will find the judging schedule. Notice there are no times listed. They start at the top and go to the bottom, but you will be able to keep track by the cat numbers. Circle or highlight the area in each column that says, "HHP." Listen for your cat's number. If your cat is number 155, when you hear, "household pets 150 - 160 to Ring 3," take your cat out of the benching cage, do the before-each-ring touchups, then take the cat to the ring that was called, and place the cat in the cage with its number on top. Latch the door, then go to the audience area to sit or stand, and watch the cats be judged. When the cat is supposed to leave the ring, the ring clerk will say, "the cats may go," and will do something with the number on top of the cage (turn it down or sideways). Then you go and collect your cat. You are welcome to take the red and white ribbon that is hanging on your cat's cage but you must leave any plastic ribbons. Then you want to listen for household pet finals in that ring. Your cat could go back into that judge's ring for a final, so you still have to pay attention to that ring.
In a two-day show, there will be three or four judgings each day. A one day show will have either 4 or 6 judgings. At a two-day show, on Saturday evening, take the cat and anything you will need in the motel with you, but leave the cage set up. Make sure you know what time judging will begin on Sunday morning. Try to arrive about 1/2 hour before judging so the cat can settle into the benching cage. Sunday will be much like Saturday. Sunday evening, at the end of the posted show hours (on the flyer), you may quietly tear down your cage (leave the cage, but take all your decorations and personal belongings) and pack your belongings. If the cat has completed his/her judgings, you may leave the show hall at the posted time (you can actually leave earlier with household pets with the show manager's permission).
If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask other exhibitors, especially other household pet people. You can also ask people at the front desk, the announcer, the master clerk; if they don’t know the answer, they can point you toward someone who does.