I visited CoonTICA’s Easter Purrade on Saturday 19 April. Easter Purrade is a cat show organised by the Maine Coon Club in the UK that’s affiliated with The International Cat Association (TICA) – I’m a member of CoonTICA.
It wasn’t just Maine Coons at the show, but all breeds of cat. All in all there must have been about 250 cats being shown, in 5 rings, over 2 days. It’s definitely one of the highlights in the cat show calendar.
Like I’d done at a previous year’s show, I decided to help out by ring-stewarding. This involves cleaning out the show pens in between classes. It doesn’t sound very glamorous, but it does put you in close proximity to the judging. I highly-recommend it as a way of getting to see all the cats in the show, and to learn how the judges do it.
I was put in Ring 3 which was under the judging of Laura Cunningham, a TICA judge who also breeds Maine Coons under the prefix Coonyham. So definitely a very seasoned pro. She was amazing – really focused; she involved the audience and cat owners and just loved explaining what she was doing. She was on the go from 9am to 5.30pm, judging 250 cats almost non-stop – she had more stamina than me!
Discovery Channel were there too, filming the show for their Animal Planet documentary. Here are some photos of the judging in action:
Smile! You’re on Animal Planet!
Notice the judge’s props – scratching post, ticklers, feather toys, wands. They are not used to play with the cats, but to get the cats to lift their heads or extend their bodies so that the judge can better assess their profiles or standard. Of course, most of the cats thought that it was just an great excuse to play!
Laura admires a beautifully-marked marble Bengal
One of the best Persians in the show (sorry about the red eye!)
Some of the beautiful rosettes awarded at the show.
Cats sometimes spray in show pens (especially stud cats), and it’s the owner’s job to clean-up after them. The problem was that the smell of stud cat pee tended to persist. So even after the owner had had a go, I still had to clean the pen multiple times, and use an enzyme-based odour-destroyer. Even then the pen had to be taken out of action until the smell had worn off. Furthermore, any cleaning towels had to be disposed of away from the judging ring because if another stud cat subsequently smelt it, that would trigger the stud cat to start spraying. All in all I must have had about 3 spraying cats that day. I was exhausted!
If I was exhausted, so were the cats by the end of the day, and in the final few rounds some of them threw hissy fits so that Laura had to ask the owners to help take them out of the show pens and put them on the judging table. Not surprisingly, the feisty Bengals were the main culprits, but having said that, one of the winning Bengals was a fantastic male who calmly sat on his owner’s lap while she sat in the audience – good as gold!
With thanks to Laura Cunningham for permission to use the photos I took of her judging. And a huge round of applause for Ros Wood, President of CoonTICA and Martin Wood, for organising this very popular and successful show and for allowing me to help out. See you next year!