WAY WE ACT AT OUR CAT SHOWS
It is easy to forget that the gate helps pay the bills for the show. We are the Ambassadors of our breeds, are we not? How many of us bring pet kittens to sell? Who will buy them if there are no spectators? Other breeders don't want pet kittens when we can make our own. Where will the future fancier's come from?
Many of the people oohing and awhing thru the show hall now will be our cat breeder's of tomorrow. The impression the show and the exhibitors make on them will stay with them for a long time. I entered my first cat show at age 12 in Hawaii, if people had been nasty to me I probably would not be breeding today and enjoying my hobby as I do. My next show was in the early 1990's and the exhibitors were very snobby. I did not attend another show until 6 years later..........
If we give a bad impression, there will be no future of the fancy. I always make it a point to talk to the spectators and if it is in between rings, I always have antiseptic hand wash and let them touch my cat, especially children, and I see many of my friends gasp in shock when I do this. I actually get quite a kick out of that! But imagine how hard it must be for spectators to see these beautiful creatures and not touch. Remember how you first felt when you saw your first show kitty ? It is natural to want to touch - imagine how they feel when they leave the show hall and know they not only *saw* beautiful cats but they were also able to *touch* one! I get many emails from people thanking me for spending time with them and letting them touch the cats, and I often hear things like, "so and so was so excited she talked about it for weeks!" This leaves a lasting impression with the spectators and you can bet the next time the show comes into town they will want to bring more friends and family. This is only more money for the clubs, folks. Without the spectators the clubs will have a difficult time putting on future shows.
Many of my friends do snub their noses at the spectators and I am extremely embarrassed. That is usually when I say, "here you can touch this kitty, but let me give you some hand wash first," and I explain why. In these pictures you can see the faces on these children that were allowed to be a part of something in which they were awed by. One little girl, I let take my cat up to every ring and it was ADORABLE! Not to mention the handling is good for the cat. And may I add here, I have NEVER brought ringworm home from a show. Sometimes it just takes one act of kindness to turn a negative experience around. So next time someone smiles at you and tells you how pretty your cat is, share some information about the breed or the cat, and if you have antiseptic wash - maybe even let them touch it, it just might make someone's day, or plant a seed for a future hobbyist.
A MESSAGE TO THE JUDGES
The first portion of this article was written many years ago and it wasn't until the last show of the show season in 2008 that I had a reason to write this next article. I was showing a brown mctabby solid male as an open. It was a 2 day show and this male finaled in a couple rings. He had very obvious mac markings and he was the only brown tabby male, classic or mac, in his color class. The last ring of the day, the judge called the owner up to ask why this cat was entered as a classic and not a mac. I started to say that I beleived he was entered correctly as a mac when she cut me off and went into a tirade about him not being entered properly and that I would lose all my winners ribbons. It wasn't in a kind way at all. I left the ring to double check with the master clerk. When I went back to the judge's ring to be sure her catalog was listed correctly, she was even more rude and talked to me as though I was a child. She kept looking at a spectator sitting in the front row and rolling her eyes and looking back to me, speaking to me in a very condescending manner. I can't imagine that the spectator will be eager to pay money to visit another cat show. Even tho I have been showing for over 10 years and have many homebred grand champions and other wins, I was treated as tho I was an ignorant newbie. I learned later that even as I walked away to try to correct the error, this conversation continued to take place without me, amongst the judge and the clerk and continued thru the entire judging of the class and beyond! Why my little "mac" tabby illicited such curiosity, I could not say. Had this been my first CFA show, it most definetly would have been my last. There was no reason for Judge A to behave this way. This was a small issue and was my problem, did not merit further dialogue than our first conversation and certainly did not involve behaving that way in front of spectators sitting in the first row, or to even continue throughout the judging of the tabby division!
The bicolors were next to be judged and whenJudge A put a brown tabby and hi-white cat on the table she askedor the owner to approach the bench where she was greeted with, "and now for my favorite question, what makes you think this is a mac or a classic?" Her cat was high white and it was hard to tell so she really did not know the answer and again, she was un-necessarily rude to the exhibitor. Judge A appeared to enjoy this sort of "power trip," that was obvious, but is it not detrimental to the cat fancy? When is enough, enough? This was a new exhibitor, excited about breeding and becoming involved in the world of cats. She was trying to do things right, show her cats, learn to groom, care for them properly, etc...
Judges, remember that new exhibitors, spectators, seasoned exhibitors have their eyes on you. If you do not enjoy the cats or the people, STOP ACCEPTING ASSIGNMENTS! I see judges at shows weekend after weekend and it is obvious that they still enjoy the cats and the people. They still talk to the spectators and look at every cat as tho it is the first they have seen all day. The gentleness with which they handle the cats and the smiles on their face, the time they spend playing with the cats, the way they speak to exhibitors, it is obvious they are where they want to be. These are the kinds of judges that we want in the show hall and that will continue to help CFA grown and increase membership. This is beneficial to everyone. Judges such as Judge A are beneficial to no one, and hurtful to everybody.