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Activities with Your Cat

Activities with Your Cat

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her. ~Montaigne

There is no question that cats who have an exclusively indoor lifestyle are much safer than those exposed to predators, diseases, and other dangerous situations outside the home. As a result, they live longer, healthier lives (as statistics show). Those of us who bring our cats indoors, however, must remember that cats are predatory creatures and that part of their normal exercise routine is based on physical activities driven by their inherent prey drive. If we simply domesticate our felines without providing them with indoor alternatives, then we are all too likely to turn them into couch potatoes, a state that leads to obesity and the medical complications associated with it. A lack of daily activities also leads to behavioral issues associated with boredom and an unstimulated lifestyle, such as scratching furniture and chewing and even chasing their own tails and pulling out their fur.

Consequently, it's critical that an indoor cat's life be enriched with activities, toys, and lots of feline interaction with people and, possibly, other pets to ensure that she is getting plenty of physical and mental stimulation. (A good reason for adopting two cats from the same litter is that they most likely will play with and entertain each other.) Fortunately, the pet industry at large is cognizant of the need for toys and quite happy to fill it. There's a plethora of wonderfully innovative products to pique feline curiosity and take care of various emotional, instinctual, and physical needs. Then there's the fabulous selection of creative cat condos and furniture designed to enhance the indoor feline lifestyle.

You don't stop at activities at home; there's plenty to share with your favorite feline outside the walls of your house. Properly equipped, you can take your cat for a stroll or a walk about the neighborhood, to visit friends (who don't have their own pets), or even to a special event. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, and your cat seems a candidate for it, think about entering her in agility competitions. Or, if your cat meets the qualifications, and you and she have the wherewithal for it, you might consider another type of competition-a cat show.Whatever toys you get, whatever activities you take part in, don't forget it's really important to spend quality time with your cat every day. Try to spend forty minutes a day interacting with your feline, whether it is grooming or petting her or simply playing games or relaxing together on the couch. Remember, you can multitask: watch TV while you scratch her behind the ears. Consider breaking up the time you spend together into short sessions spread throughout the day. Such interludes should never be considered "a task" but a wonderful way of interacting with your pet, building her social confidence, and, most importantly, strengthening your human–feline bond.

It's important to enrich the life of your indoor cat with activities, toys, and plenty of interaction.

Activities and Entertainment at Home

It's important to introduce toys and games from kittenhood. Always be in control and never encourage rough games that allow a kitten (or a fully grown cat) to bite, claw, and draw blood. If a cat is prone to such behavior, learn to time your play sessions accordingly and end the game just before the claws come out.It's important to remember that, apart from the physical exercise fun and games provide, they also give your cat much-needed mental stimulation and help hone her inherent instincts to hunt and pounce.

Cat Toys and Games

Cats can be very inventive and turn just about anything from a crumpled piece of paper to a shopping bag into a plaything, and toy manufacturers have used this inventiveness to design some fabulous gadgets. Cat toys can be divided into three main categories. Interactive toys are playthings that involve human and feline interaction. Distraction toys and games (often also referred to as enrichment toys) are designed to distract and keep a cat busy when she's on her own. This category is especially important if cats are home alone for lengthy periods. (It's a good idea to place toys in a cat tree or condo because cats love to play with things in their own private space, too.) And last, there are comfort toys-some cats, just like some dogs, love to carry around small plush toys in their mouths, wrestle with them, and then curl up to sleep with them.

Toys are fun, but they are no substitute to spending quality time with your feline companion.

Interactive Toys and Games

Interactive toys and games can be a lot of fun for both you and your cat. They fall into the following categories:

Wands and fishing rods:

Wands can sport a variety of furry materials, feathers and bells, and stretch fabrics that will "jump" when pounced on and fly off in another direction. There are even bugs on wires that "fly" and fish on the end of realisticlooking rods that can be reeled in. Some wands also have a battery-operated toy on the end that makes a realistic buzzing or fluttering noise to really pique a cat's prey drive and makes the games even more fun. Make sure you move the wand across and away from yourself to prevent your cat accidentally clawing you. Train your cat that such games take place in an open space to ensure that valuable ornaments and electronic equipment don't bear the brunt of such feline fun.

Laser toys:

Lasers also rev up a cat's prey drive as they chase after the little red dot that seems to slip just out of reach with every paw pounce. Lasers come with different heads that change the shape of the beam. Such toys are great to keep handy when you are doing chores around the house because you can pick the laser toy up at intervals and introduce a couple of rounds of chase and catch. Be sure to let the beam rest in a spot long enough for your cat to pounce and try to capture her prey. Never shine a laser beam directly at her face and eyes. It's important to remember that laser games are not really fair play because the feline participant never gets the opportunity to catch and enjoy her prize. So give her a treat at the end of the game and be sure that the next toy you bring out is one that she can actually capture and kick around with her paws.

Most cats cannot resist laser pointers.

Ball games:

Cats can be quite inventive when it comes to ball games because just about anything from the silver paper used to wrap chocolate to a scrunched piece of writing paper is considered a ball in feline terms. There's even a line of feline stationery items made from catnip-infused paper that can be scrunched up into paper balls that will really put the capital "P" in "play." There's also an enormous variety of commercial balls to add to the toy box, from high-velocity bouncing rubber ones to woolen ones with feathers. Many are made from nontoxic and eco-friendly materials. Some have bells inside; others chirp and make interesting noises that notch up the fun level. Be sure to include a variety of balls with soft materials that a cat can actually hold with her paws and toss about on her own. Although many people might not believe it, it's easy to engage a cat in ball games of fetch. Often, they initiate such play themselves by retrieving the ball and, like a dog, bringing it to you to throw over and over again. Some may even drag a wand with a furry creature on the end over to you and drop it at your feet to initiate play.

Cat-and-mouse games:

No cat can resist little furry mice, especially when they are stuffed with catnip and make realistic squeaky noises. Other mice have bells and rattles, too. Most cats bite these toys to pieces to "attack" the noise, so be sure to remove the remnants to keep your cat from accidentally swallowing anything. Soft fabric mice usually contain a pouch that you can fill with catnip and constantly refresh to keep games stimulating and amusing. Some of them even have little wheels to help them scurry across the floor. And there are remote-control mice to rev up the fun, too!

Bubbles of fun:

Because both cats and kids love bubbles, this is an ideal activity for them to engage in together. Although ordinary bubble soap purchased from a toy store or supermarket can be fun, a special catnip-infused bubble solution, available from most pet stores, will maintain feline interest for even longer periods.

Cats love bubbles, and pet stores even carry catnip-infused bubble solutions.

Battery-operated toys:

These days, the variety almost equals the selection for children-from battery-operated mice that scamper on all surfaces, to a Barbie-styled room of furniture with plastic mice on a special track that scurry around "the room" to pique feline curiosity. There are also laser units that can be pre-set to flash different light patterns around a room. Some of these items are so sophisticated they can be programed to switch on and off at regular intervals to initiate play when cats are home alone; these toys are definitely worth the investment. There are huge mental and physical stimulation benefits for a cat engaging with such toys when home alone, and, fortunately, the selection available grows bigger by the day.

Distraction or Enrichment Toys and Games

There are lots of innovative distraction toys on the market. They fall into the following categories:

Kitty gyms and activity centers:

This selection of easy-to-assemble toys offers cats a variety of on-tap entertainment items that spin, dangle, whirl, and twirl. Some have tassels with bells and balls too. Certain designs are combined with a scratching pad or include birds on spring devices that move at the touch of a swatting paw. Be sure to remove and replace any parts that look worn and torn so your cat doesn't accidentally swallow something.

Scratching posts:

Because cats scratch instinctively, a well-designed scratching post can also be considered an activity center. Some of the newest designs are made out of corrugated recycled cardboard, with ramps and hidey-holes that will provide endless hours of fun and games and, at the same time, take care of an instinctive feline need. Cats usually like to stretch and scratch, so place scratchers strategically near a popular snooze zone. The more scratchers around the home, the less likely it is that your cat will attempt to shred furniture and drapes.

Kitty condos and cat trees:

Cats instinctively enjoy elevated positions. So, whether you have one or more cats, a multistationed cat tree is essential feline entertainment. Not only will it keep your cat out of mischief (such as going on a hunt and attacking various items in the house), but it will also provide endless hours of amusement. Space permitting in your home, look for a design that offers places to snooze, hide, and scratch, as well as some built-in activities, such as a toy on a spring or something that dangles and twirls. If space is really an issue, there are wonderful condos that can be attached to a wall or can even attach to the back of a door. Special floor-to-ceiling designs are specially made to fit into a small corner and can be made to look like a decorating feature. Cat trees made from real bark (some even have branches of silk leaves) and sisal are very decorative and will look fabulous in any stylish interior, as well as offering excellent feline enjoyment. Where possible, try and position the condo close to a window so that your cat can enjoy a view of the garden or street.

Puzzle games:

Apart from providing endless hours of fun, puzzle games intellectually challenge your cat while allowing her to hunt and generally entertain herself. Some of the most stimulating games include large square boxes with balls or toys trapped within the framework but able to move around, or a wheel-shaped tunnel with a fast-moving ball that spins when batted. Feline board games are the latest version of puzzle toys that allow treats or small toys to be hidden under plastic covers that adept paw manipulation can remove to retrieve the rewards. Another version of a feline board game consists of a selection of tubes of different heights slotted into a tray. Cats are very adept at removing treats with their paws and will spend hours working it out! This can also be a great way of feeding them part of their normal food allowance because it means they really have to work for it!

Puzzle games are great at keeping kitty occupied. This ball dispenses a treat when the cat hits it just right.

Hide-and-seek games:

Cats love tunnels and bags that they can climb into to play games of hide-and-seek with themselves or other felines in the family. Some toys resembling brown paper bags make a crinkly noise when moved. Others even have toys inside that move around to keep your cat intrigued. You can hide treats and other toys in there, too.For a more elaborate game, set up a feline treasure hunt around your home using your cat's favorite toys and treats. This is a great way to keep cats occupied when they are home alone. Place the toys and treats in different hiding places around your home and leave her to seek them out and have some fun-and some munchies! Include special treat balls that dispense treats as they roll around, and even hide treats in accessible places near cat scratchers and on different levels on the kitty condo. It's a good idea to vary the locations and the toys to always keep things fresh.

Stocking and Safeguarding the Toy Box

Every cat will enjoy a well-stocked toy box. Remember to rotate toys to keep feline interest highest. If you are going to be out of the house (or room), however, pick up and put away any toys that may be harmful if ingested or that could become wound around your cat's neck.

Watch out for:

  • Wands, along with anything that dangles, such as string, stretch fabrics, and ribbons (also never leave knitting wool, sewing threads, and needles lying around)
  • Small balls and cat toys with feathers
  • Holiday tree tinsel and decorations
  • Old toys-they can unravel and be ingested; throw them out

Comfort Toys

Interestingly, despite the fact that many cats love soft cuddly toys, there are very few plush toys made specifically for cats, other than soft life-size mice. If you can't find a plush cat toy, shop at a toyshop or in the dog section at a pet store. Be wary of anything with glass or plastic eyes that could be pulled off and swallowed. Dog toys that have no stuffing usually turn out to be kitty favorites. (Even though dog toys may have squeakers in them, because cats usually carry them around or toss them, they usually don't activate the squeakers.) My preference is for soft baby toys for your favorite feline because they are usually designed to high safety standards.

Feline Amusement Park

You can create your own feline amusement park by taking certain items you have around the home and linking them together. For example, try placing a cat tunnel next to the circular hidey-hole on the ground level of a kitty condo. On the other end, position an ordinary cardboard box with holes cut in it. To make the box attractive, paint it with nontoxic paint or cover it with carpet tiles or fabric. Put your imagination to work. Your cat will appreciate your efforts. There is also a system of corrugated boxes called Catty Stacks that can be combined in a variety of different ways to provide endless hours of fun. You can add other cat accessories to these structures, such as a sleeping mat or an attached wand toy for additional play. When it comes to feline amusement, it's all about variety.

Videos and TV Entertainment

Studies have shown that some cats do watch videos and television. Consequently, there is an enormous selection of cat videos to capture feline attention with flying objects and the noises of other animals and birds. Some cats also love to watch sports such as tennis and horseracing-TV channels such as Animal Planet and certain sports channels are an excellent source of feline entertainment. So, when you're planning to be out for a lengthy period of time, let modern technology baby-sit your feline by leaving the TV on a good cat-watching channel or inserting a special cat Blu-ray disc set on replay.

Outdoor Adventures with Your Cat

Ready to venture outside with your cat? Barring restrictions at a certain destination, you can take a cat just about anywhere with you as long as you have the right equipment and/or mode of transportation. If you want to take your cat for outings, begin training her to walk wearing a harness and leash at an early age. First, leave the harness lying around the house on its own and let her interact with it by placing a treat or two close to it. Then do the same with the leash. You can also play with it to pique kitty interest. Next, let her wear just the harness around the house on several occasions. After she's comfortable and totally ignores it, attach the leash and let her drag it around after her. Once she's comfortable with this scenario, you will be ready to take her for short walks outside. Always choose routes that are not known to be heavily populated by dogs or people so that she doesn't get spooked. Alternatively, teach your cat to sit in a specially designed pet stroller. There are many designs to choose from. Those that have a carrier that clips onto a fold-up base are probably the safest for cats because it's not necessary to transplant them from a standard carrier into the stroller at your destination or reverse the procedure for the journey home.

Start by leaving the stroller inside your home in an open position so that she can jump in and out. Chances are, when you are least expecting it, you will probably find your cat curled up asleep inside it. Then start by taking her for short jaunts about the neighborhood. Gradually increase the distance of your outings. Your cat will grow to consider such outings normal events and enjoy the mental and physical stimulation of being out and about. Taking your cat places also means that she has the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for all felines. Often, people who claim that they do not like cats have never met one. Because most cats are usually closeted in our homes, such people never get the opportunity to get up close and personal with a feline to learn to appreciate them. So taking your cat out and about is a great public relations opportunity to promote felines and possibly convert some self-proclaimed dislikers of cats into cat people. There was a certain famous Scottish Fold that did so while traveling the world (see the next chapter for his story).Very sociable cats and those who are comfortable on a leash or don't mind traveling in a car often enjoy the stimulation of going shopping at a pet supermarket. If your cat is leash-trained and unnerved by the hustle and bustle of a store, she may be quite happy to sit in the shopping cart and enjoy the indoor part of the outing from there.

The alternative for such outings is, of course, a pet stroller. Many outdoor malls have a pet-friendly policy, allowing your cat to enjoy window-shopping with you. A cat in a stroller will be welcome at any outdoor eating area, giving you the opportunity to meet a friend for lunch or a quick coffee. Catcentric websites and local newspapers are a good place to starting looking for pet-friendly events in your area. Furthermore, hotel groups that put out the welcome mat for pets, such as Kimpton Hotels, regularly hold pet-related events that a well-socialized cat may enjoy attending. A typical outing is a Christmas event to come and meet Santa Paws and have a photograph taken. Don't forget visits to friends who love cats and don't have a pet; they are sure to make your feline happy with lots of attention. In particular, visit the elderly people you know, especially those who live alone and are likely to cherish time spent playing with a cat.

Cat Strollers

Apart from shopping trips and visits to friends, taking your cat for walks around the neighborhood is another good reason to invest in a cat stroller. Cats, because they are curious by nature, are fascinated by their surroundings. Cats who are allowed outdoors usually sit under a bush and watch their surroundings, and they can do the exact same thing from the safe confines of a stroller. And you will get much-needed fresh air and exercise, too.Elderly cats in particular enjoy having "wheels" and will benefit from the mental stimulation gained from going for a ride. Pushing a stroller is a great form of daily exercise and comes with the built-in opportunity of spending quality time with your cat.If you live in a neighborhood that also has wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and even large birds of prey, it is really not safe to let your cat outside unattended. Instead, let her enjoy the great outdoors from the safe confines of a stroller. It will also give you peace of mind as far as her safety is concerned. For multicat households, there are very large strollers (designed especially for 150-pound dogs) that will comfortably accommodate two and possibly three cats.

If you want to take your cat on outings, start training her on a harness and leash at an early age.

A leash-trained cat can safely enjoy tree climbing as long as you are securely holding the leash.

Cat Agility Competitions

If your cat seems to need more rigorous outlets than playing with toys at home and going on walking and stroller outings, consider getting her involved in cat agility, a recognized feline sporting activity. In cat agility tournaments, which are organized by International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT) and held around the country, cats compete against the clock for the fastest time on a course similar to that popularized in dog agility. Felines, especially the very athletic breeds, such as Bengals and Abyssinians, really enjoy the challenge. Professionally organized events are open to all cats, pedigreed and mix-breed. To determine whether this is something your cat will enjoy, set up an agility course in your living room. An agility course usually comprises a number of stations, with bars to jump over, hoops to leap through, and tunnels to navigate. Check out professional agility kits for pets online to get an idea of the type of equipment needed and then improvise with items in your home. Turn chairs upside down and place a broom across them for a bar. Set out your cat tunnel, and, if you still have a hula-hoop in the garage, include it in the course. Alternatively, use items from a standard dog agility kit. Use a wand with a feather on the end to lure your cat from station to station. Cats quickly get the hang of this and will pick up speed and have fun. If your cat enjoys this type of fun at home, then it's a good sign that she may be willing to turn professional. Watch the notice board in your local pet store or supermarket because agility events are often held at such venues.

If your cat is a glamorpuss, she may be the perfect candidate for a cat show.

The Cat Show World

Even if you don't have a pedigreed feline with a family tree charted with champions, there is a place for your cat in the show world, and being involved in the cat fancy can be a fun and rewarding activity for both of you. The two main cat registries that rule the feline show world in the United States are the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and the International Cat Association (TICA). Both organizations include a section for household cats in their regular cat shows. Cat shows take place practically every weekend in some part of the country, varying in size and importance on the feline show calendar. From both the spectator and participant viewpoints, they can be likened to mini-fairs. The show rings and judging form only one aspect of the day's proceedings; the variety of other activities range from informative workshops, adoption booths, and feline agility courses to numerous booths selling a cornucopia of cat-related wares.

Becoming involved in the cat fancy can be a time-consuming pastime. A lot of cats love the hoopla and attention and enjoy the mental and physical challenges of this pastime. But first, the best way to find out whether you would enjoy being involved in the cat fancy is to go to a few different shows as a spectator. As far as your cat is concerned, you will have to judge whether she would enjoy taking part in such events by how much she enjoys going out and about with you to the pet store or how she reacts around people in general. If she seems reluctant, remember the saying "When in doubt, don't!"From the spectators' viewpoint, CFA- and TICA-organized events are set up along similar lines. Rows of cages (the benching area) house the feline participants waiting to be judged in a number of show rings, with each ring presided over by a judge and a clerk to keep a record of the proceedings. The judging in the various rings goes on concurrently. Cat shows are often two-day events. Learning the ropes at a cat show can be confusing because the CFA and TICA each has its own set of competitive categories, methods of scoring, and awards system. Both organizations have very comprehensive information about the way they conduct competition on their websites: www.CFA.org and www.TICA.org.

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping

The shopping area at a typical cat show is a great place to stock up on a variety of merchandise for yourself and your feline. Booths sell everything from cat-themed people apparel to the latest cat toys, carriers, and grooming products. You will find novelty cat items, some that are sold in pet stores, but several unique to the shows, such as a cat exercise wheel resembling a mini-Ferris wheel that offers a great workout to any cat curious enough to try it out.

CFA Cat Shows

The judging rings at a CFA show are classified either as all-breed shows, where all cats, regardless of coat length or type, compete for various awards, or specialty shows, where only cats of similar coat length or type are allowed to compete against one another. Males and females are initially judged separately within their breed's color classes. All the cats or kittens then compete for best and second best of breed.

Understanding CFA Categories

Both all breed and specialty shows are held for the following categories of cats. Cats who have been declawed are not permitted to compete in any of these categories.

Kittens:

Kittens are classified according to their age. They have to be not younger than four months and not older than eight months. All kittens are judged collectively, irrespective of whether they have been spayed or neutered. Kittens can only win ribbons, not titles.

Championship Class:

The Championship Class category is for unaltered (not spayed or neutered) pedigreed cats over the age of eight months. Premiership is the equivalent for all altered (spayed and neutered) pedigreed cats over the age of eight months.

Household Pets:

The Household Pets Division is for nonpedigreed cats and pedigreed cats with a disqualifying trait that would disallow them from being shown in the regular classes. Nonpedigreed kittens between four and eight months can also compete with adults in the Household Pet category. However, if the cats are older than eight months, they have to be spayed or neutered.

Veteran:

The Veteran Class is for both male and female, altered (spayed or neutered) or unaltered (not spayed or neutered) pedigreed cats who are more than seven years of age on the opening day of the show.

Provisional and Miscellaneous:

Provisional and Miscellaneous categories are for breeds that have not as yet achieved championship status as recognized by the CFA.

The CFA has division for household pets so that even nonpedigreed cats can compete in the show.

Decoding CFA Show Categories and Color Ribbons

Every CFA-registered cat over the age of eight months starts its show career in what is known as the Open Class category. In this introductory level of competition, first place wins a blue ribbon, second place is red, third place is yellow (for both male and females). The overall winner's ribbon is red, white, and blue and is awarded to the best male and best female open in each color class.

A cat has to collect six winners' ribbons in this category to move up to become a champion or a premier. In the champion or premier level of competition, when cats in the same color group are judged, they receive blue, red, and yellow ribbons. The next level of competition is the Grand Champion class. Here, cats also compete for blue, red, and yellow ribbons within the color classes for males and females. The black ribbon denotes Best of Color Class and a white ribbon denotes second place. Once a judge has evaluated all the cats in every color class within a breed (or color division within a breed), the brown Best of Breed ribbon is awarded. Second place receives orange. The Best Champion of Breed is awarded a purple ribbon and receives points for the number of other champions defeated. To achieve the Grand Champion title requires 200 points plus awards in judges' finals.

The very top of the awards pyramid is the final in each category, and the ultimate prize is a rosette along with points toward Grand Champion, Regional, or National wins. Rosettes can be any color. Household Pets are judged in one group without regard to sex, age, coat length, or color, and they are judged simply for their unique appearance in addition to good condition and pleasing personality. In this category, cats can win red and white merit award ribbons. If you are keen to learn the intricacies of the judging procedure, the CFA website (www.CFA. org) is a great place to start. They also hand out informational brochures at cat shows to help newcomers navigate the system.

Tracking Cat Shows

Both the CFA and TICA also post events on their respective websites. Their calendars detail shows planned for the next couple of years. Local newspapers are also an excellent source of information about cat shows. Cat Fancy magazine also lists the major shows around the country during a calendar year. Don't overlook notice boards in coffee shops, supermarkets, and the veterinarian's office.

A show cat needs to become accustomed to being handled by many different people.

TICA Cat Shows

TICA also has two kinds of rings: all-breed and specialty. However, its title award system is based on a combination of points earned within color classes and divisions, along with the finals points. Kittens are also classified by age (four to eight months) and can't win titles.Cats eligible for titles must make a given amount of points and reach the finals for each of the awarded titles. The points are tallied to ultimately award titles. To earn the Supreme Grand Champion, a cat must have earned a Best Cat after it's earned four Best Champion awards (Quadruple Grand Champion). Every TICA judge presides over his or her own awards for the top ten cats in each group in his or her ring. Because there are more judging rings at a TICA show than at a CFA show, there are more opportunities for awards.

Understanding TICA Groups

The main TICA groups are longhaired kittens, shorthaired kittens, unaltered (not spayed or neutered) adult longhaired, unaltered (not spayed or neutered) adult shorthaired, altered (spayed or neutered) adult longhaired, altered (spayed or neutered) adult shorthaired, altered (spayed or neutered) longhaired household pets, altered (spayed or neutered) shorthaired household pet, longhaired household pet kittens, and shorthaired household pet kittens, as well as a group known as "new breeds and new traits" accepted by TICA and endorsing the fact that the cat fancy continues to evolve.In all of the adult groups, fully grown cats can compete for titles that range from Champion for unaltered pedigreed cats, Champion Alter for altered pedigreed cats, and Master for Household Pets. Other titles include, Grand Champion; Double, Triple, and Quadruple Grand Champion; and, finally, Supreme Grand Champion. Titles are not available for new breeds and new traits.

Decoding TICA Award Colors

The Best of Color award for each cat of a particular color is blue. The runner-up gets red. Third place is yellow, fourth place is green, and fifth is white. The judges then select the top three in each of eight divisions within four categories (Traditional Colors, Sepia, Mink, and Pointed), making a total of thirty-two divisions. The Divisions in each category are Solid, Tortie, Tabby, Silver/Smoke, Solid and White, Tortie and White/Tabby and White, and Silver/Smoke and White. The Best of Division receives a black ribbon. Second is purple, and third is orange. Next, the judge selects the top three in the breed. The Best of Breed is gold. Silver ranks second, and bronze rates third. Judges are only required to name the breed placement. Most of the time, there isn't a ribbon for the breed. Breed placements don't actually earn any points. In the final round in each category, rosettes are also given to the top ten cats. Like CFA, rosettes can be any color depending on the time of year or the theme of the event. For example, at Christmas time, they are usually red and white. In the TICA title computation, the finals also count in points toward Regional and International wins. TICA's awards systems can be complicated, to say the least. So, understandably, the best way to learn the different systems is to go to and keep going to cat shows of all kinds.

Other Cat Show Need-to-Know Facts

Just like the CFA, TICA also has ambassadors/ guides at their events wearing buttons who say things like "Ask Me," so information is readily available. Often the exhibitors, if they are not busy with their cats, are also happy to chat. You will learn a great deal from those chats, so don't be shy. If you are interested in the show world but feel your present cat would not be a happy participant, this is an excellent place to meet breeders and even purchase a kitten with the potential to compete. If a kitten has show cat parents, which those offered by show breeders do, that kitten is likely to have the right temperament to enjoy participating in the show world, too.

Other facts you need to know about the cat show world:

  • If you have purchased a pedigreed cat or kitten, it's a good idea to ask the breeder to be your mentor.
  • You will have to register your feline with the organization of your choice. Both the CFA and TICA have basic guidelines, including information for household cats, posted on their websites.
  • Not every cat has the temperament for the show ring. Preparation begins at home by getting your feline accustomed to being handled by different people.
  • Showing your cat is a commitment in both time and money. Apart from the traveling, there's a lot of grooming involved at home and at a show. Exactly how much varies according to the chosen breed.
  • To ensure your cat's comfort in a show environment, it's a good idea to bring her favorite blanket and toys.
  • Your will also need cage curtains to cover the top, back, and sides of the cage to seclude your cat and keep her calm. You can begin your show career using sheets and towels and progress to fancy curtains that complement the color of your cat.
  • Most cat shows provide litter, but each cat owner is responsible for the litter box and the provision of food and water during the event.
  • Entry forms and payment can often be done online. Always ensure that you allow plenty of time to register and check in on the day of the event.
  • If you are a newcomer, often the organizers will place you between experienced show-goers so that you can learn the drill from them.
  • Many cat shows offer seminars and workshops to acquaint first-timers with grooming techniques, scoring arrangements, and general information about what the judges are looking for within particular breeds.
  • Ensure everything you bring to the show is well marked with your name and details-and this includes your cat, in the form of a microchip implanted for identification. (Although this is not a show requirement in the United States, as it is in Europe, it is still a wise precaution.)
  • A cat should always be transported in a wellventilated and sturdy carrier with proper locking devices.

The Cat Library

The Cat Library in Glendale, California is the only known collection of its kind in the world. It is housed in the main Glendale City Library and only open to the public by appointment. Among its thousands of books are the works of Harrison Weir, the organizer of the first cat show in Britain, and Frances Simpson, who was probably the most renowned feline authority and author of her day. If you love cats, the library is definitely worth a visit to appreciate these valuable volumes and enjoy reading the English writing style of the Victorian era. The library is located at 222 E. Harvard St. Glendale, CA 91205. The direct telephone number for an appointment is 818-548-2037.

From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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