As most of you know, I own a number of cats. Three of them are purebred Oriental Shorthairs, one of which is being used for breeding by his breeder.
As part of the process that started with me getting an intact stud cat, Macavity was taken to a number of cat shows. And it turns out, cat shows are my sort of thing. I know, shocking to not a single one of you.
Last weekend, there was the All About Pets show, which included a cat show. For the first time, we brought our cats ourselves. And yes, cats.
A quick primer on cat shows:
During a cat show, there are usually a number of different rings in which judges judge cats. Cats are separated into four classes — Household pets (non pedigreed cats), Alters (spayed or neutered cats), Kittens (as it says on the tin), and Champions (intact cats). Within each class, cats are judged against the others of their breed for best of breed. Once that’s done, the judges pick their top cats for the finals.
Cats get titles based on first, if they meet the standards in the opinion of four judges, and then, by how many cats in the same class they beat.
All that aside, what a cat show really ends up being is a lot of time chatting with people, intermittently running cats to various judging rings, then returning.
For this show, I had a few goals.
1. I wanted both Jelly and Macavity to get their first titles. Done and done, they are now Premier Siam Jewels Jellylorum and Champion Siam Jewels Macavity.
2. I wanted Jelly to final once. Done, done, and done. Jelly got 2nd best shorthair alter, and 2nd and 6th best allbreed alter, which was significantly better than I could have dreamt.
3. I wanted Macavity not to lose entirely. ;) Mac is still a very immature looking cat. Jelly, his relative, took to nearly 18 months before she really started looking good, and is twice as beautiful at two as she was at one. Macavity just turned 1, so we’ve got time.
And, shockingly enough… done. Macavity went best of breed once, second best of breed three times, and best of champions four times. For the best of breeds, he beat Grand Champions and some of the top Orientals in Canada, which was really impressive, and gives me hope that in eight months or so, he’ll be even more beautiful.
4. I wanted Jelly to enjoy or at least tolerate showing. Done, but almost failed. Jelly was fine with the hanging out in the show cage, fine with the interacting with people, fine with the being mauled about by the judges. What she was NOT fine with was sitting in the open judging cages, surrounded by foreign cats. The first day, she was pretty freaked out, and sat hunched over, facing away from the crowds.
The second day, she was REALLY unhappy, to the point that I nearly pulled her from showing on day three. She backed herself into corners, grabbed at the tablecloth under her, knocked over her number, and her behaviour escalated during the day until the last ring, I finally had to remove her rather than have her hurt herself.
She did really well in the competition, and has the possibility of being an excellent show cat, if she could calm down. But getting ribbons isn’t worth stressing out my cat, so I was considering, at the end of Saturday, retiring her already.
We still had another day of showing, so I considered things that night, and decided that it was time to use my behaviourist knowledge. She clearly found the judging cages stressful, and clearly did not find the entire process very reinforcing. There was nothing in it for her.
So I changed that. Sunday, I brought a baggie full of cheddar cheese with me to the show. Jelly got a piece of cheddar before going in the judging cage, and a piece after she was done. In this case, I was hoping to use classical conditioning — associating a specific stimulus with something desirable to change her opinion on it. I was not really trying to teach her something (operant conditioning) because I fully intended on giving her the cheese even if she was squirmy.
But I didn’t have to. The first ring, she ate her cheese (a little perplexedly), then went into the cage and was calm, looked forward, meowed a few times (she is an Oriental), and was overall exceptionally good.
Her behaviour actually got better throughout the day, to the point that she was as calm as the show cats who have been doing this for years.
Behold, the power of cheese!
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.
One of the most amusing parts of the weekend was when another competitor mentioned, as we were watching the judging, that all of the cats hated Ring 1. This was at the All About Pets Show, as I said, and Ring 1 was right next to the world of birds — a number of tables with cockatoos, macaws, and conures shrieking intermittently. To no one’s surprise, Macavity and Jelly were utterly unfazed by that. :)
I didn’t bring the good camera, but I have a few fun iPhone pictures from the weekend.
Macavity shows off his breed sign.
The two of them hanging out in the show cage.
As you can see, they clearly hate each other.
Here’s Jelly in one of the judging cages, looking just like her father.
And finally, a few videos. :)
Apr 19, 2014 | This is what happens to cats at shows. We are terrible people. by stejacks on Keek.com
Our next show will likely be in June, and this time around, Nemo may attend too. We’ll see how it goes.
Yay for cat shows!