Cat shows are gatherings of pedigreed cats being judged for their representation of the breed. The preparations for showing a cat start nearly from the time the cat is born. For a show, your cat must be in the best health possible. Cats are also judged for their personality and temperament. If your pedigreed cat is a good candidate for showing, here's how to train a cat for a show:
- Understand cat training basics. Cats are nothing like dogs when it comes to training. Loud commands may work with dogs, but they won't work with cats. Cats are intelligent enough to understand you, but stubborn, so even if they know exactly what you want from them, they may not do it. These independent creatures are not as eager to seek your approval as dogs. Rewards are the key to getting the right behavior out of your cat.
- Know the show requirements. These differ from show to show. Make sure you're familiar with the requirements before entering a cat in a show. Know what will be expected of your cat in terms of appearance and behavior. Tailor your training to these expectations. Many shows only allow pedigreed cats; if your cat is not pedigreed, you will be sorely disappointed if you train your cat for the show only to find out that you can't register.
- Practice "Stance." As part of a show, the judges will expect your cat to maintain a standing or sitting position for a few moments. The cat is not expected to stand erect with a stiff posture as you might expect at dog shows, but your cat should be trained to remain still for several minutes. Praise your cat whenever you find them in the correct position. Gradually extend the length of time you expect them to remain in this position.
- Get your cat used to grooming and travel. Show cats must be well-groomed. Train your cat by grooming them from a young age so that they will be comfortable with this process. You'll also need to take your cat in a cat carrier to the show location. Their first time in such a carrier should not be the day of the show, or they will be stressed out and will not show well. Take them places in the carrier (and not the vet!) so that they won't assume that the cat carrier means something bad will happen.
- Consider hiring an expert. For the top shows, most show cats are trained by experts, not necessarily by their owners. There is a Mentor Program offered by the Cat Fanciers' Association that can help you understand the show process if you're new to the world of cat shows.
Showing a cat takes a lot of hard work, but many pet owners find that it is well worth the effort. At cat shows you'll meet many other pet owners. Many cats enjoy showing off at these shows. You don't have to be an expert or a cat breeder to show cats; in fact, there are many categories specifically for amateurs.