What makes a top show cat?

5 May, 2007


(one of the top cats at the TICA Easter Purrade show.  The judge is Vickie Shields, showing her appreciation for a great cat.)

Put a whole group of prize-winning cats in a judging ring, all of them with sound conformation and excellent type – how do you select the top cat from such stiff competition?

At the recent TICA Easter Purrade cat show, one of the judges summed up how she chose the top cat of top cats:  it had to make her laugh.

Yes, at the end of the day, when you have a row of perfect cats, it’s personality that counts in a cat show.

If you look at the judge’s table in a TICA show ring, you’ll see some toys and props that a judge uses to suss out what a cat is like.  There’ll usually be a cat scratching post, a stick-type toy with a feathery lure, and maybe something that makes a noise.  Vickie Shields also had some miniature plastic penguins (which were weighted so they wobbled back and forth) on the table (if you look closely at the photo, you’ll see one of the penguins near the Bengal’s head).  This allows the cat being judged to focus on the table rather than on the audience.  Female cats especially are easily distracted by their surroundings – it’s an evolutionary trait because female cats have had to look out for their kittens and tend to be more aware of what’s going on, to stop the owl flying overhead from going for her kitten.  So, the toy penguins allow cats to look downwards rather than out.  All part of the tricks-of-the-trade of a TICA judge!

The top Top cat in the ring was a Bengal stud cat.  Now, based on my personal experience with my Bengal girl neuter, I expect a cat who’s intractable, noisy and difficult to handle.  So I was anticipating the worse from an entire male at the peak of his strength and health!  What I saw instead was a Bengal who was a delight to handle.  The judge held him up facing her and he placed his paws on her, she chatted to him and he took it all in good spirits.  (if it had been my girl the judge would have been short of one eye by then!).

The winning point came when the Bengal started climbing up the scratching post.  The judge tried to pick him up and he squirmed downwards in her hands, so that he was climbing DOWN the post, bum in the air.  The whole audience laughed too.

That Bengal was bomb-proof and a joy to handle.  He entertained us all.  He deserved to be Top of the Top cats.



  1. Watching TICA judges is always a joy, unfortunately the bengals can be frightened and noisy and there are times a handful of upset cats can go on to upset the rest in the class. We do not here in the UK use ANY sedation on our cats at cat shows, and as a result it appears that there are rumours we have the worst behaved bengals in the world. I would rather have this label than drug my cat.

  2. great work,

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