Archive for the ‘TICA cat organisation’ Category

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CoonTICA Easter Purrade 2008

26 April, 2008

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:

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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!

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Laura admires a beautifully-marked marble Bengal

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One of the best Persians in the show (sorry about the red eye!)

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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!

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What makes a top show cat?

5 May, 2007

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(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.

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CoonTICA cat show – Easter Purrade – 14/15 April

26 April, 2007

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(Vickie Shields, TICA AllBreed judge, signing a winner’s rosette at the Easter Purrade show on 14 April, 2007.  Photo used by kind permission of Vickie Shields.)

I had the time of my life at the EasterPurrade cat show, organised by the CoonTICA cat club two weekends ago.

As you’ve guessed, CoonTICA is a Maine Coon cat club affiliated to The International Cat Association, though the club is open to all whether you have a Maine Coon or any other breed of cat.  Similarly the Easter Purrade show (like most TICA cat shows) had all breeds of cat being exhibited.

For a number of years I’ve visited shows as a visitor, and once with my cats, and although I enjoyed admiring the beautiful cats and chatting to fellow breeders and satisfying my cat-toy addiction, I’d never really felt a part of the show.

This time, I volunteered to help out, and Ros and Martin Wood kindly offered me the position of ring steward in one of the show rings.

A TICA show has several show rings, in which holding cat pens are arranged on 3 sides of a square, in the centre of which is a table where the judge does her judging.  A ring clerk sits next to the table recording the show scores.  In front of the ring are rows of chairs for people to sit and watch the judging.  Cats are brought in my their owners and placed in the pens and the judge takes out each cat and places it on the table.  The ring steward’s job is to disinfect and clean the pens after the cats have gone back to their permanent pens in the benching area.

Being a ring steward is not a difficult job, but you need to be quick cleaning the cages because of the fast turnaround of cats in between classes.  As it was my first time, I was dead nervous, but I was lucky to be placed under the wing of Martin Wood (of Woodycoon Maine Coons), a highly-respected breeder and one of the founder members of CoonTICA, who was recording the scores as ring clerk.

The ring I was allotted was the Congress ring, and the judge was Vickie Shields from the US.

I tell you, I learnt so much that day.  Vickie was so generous and approachable, she talked to the audience, and shared her experience with them and myself.  As I was literally seated next to the judging table, I could see up close what a good cat was like.

And there were so many great cats!  Many of the top cats in the UK were at that show and the standards were very high.

I’m going to post some more on what I learnt that day, but in the meantime, if you want to have a great day out at a cat show, CoonTICA are organising another show, JustFur Cats, on 9 and 10 June at the Wood Green Animal Shelter in Cambridgeshire.

Better still, if you’re a cat breeder and want to learn more, get involved.  I know I shall – I’ve been bitten by the show clerk bug!

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Catswhiskers prefix approved by TICA

8 September, 2006

Very happy. Got approval recently to have Catswhiskers as my cattery/breeding prefix, by The International Cat Association (TICA).

Now I can register the litter of kittens and have them carry the name Catswhiskers.

If I’d registered with the GCCF, my prefix application wouldn’t have been approved for months and I wouldn’t have been able to use the prefix for litters born before the prefix was granted. The mind boggles … . Instead, I would have had to use their annual administrative prefix. But I wanted my kittens to have the best, I wanted them to have an identity of their own so I went the TICA route instead.

Now the question is: do I apply for the same prefix with GCCF, if it’s already been taken what should I do?

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Kittens – the third week – the search for a prefix

5 August, 2006

And of course, not only do we have to come up with names for the kittens, but I’ve got to get a cattery prefix too.Ananda1

What is a cattery prefix? It’s what breeders have that distinguishes their breeding lines from other breeders’ lines. My girl comes from the Mullycoonz cattery. Her pedigree name is Mullycoonz Eowyn.

What’s the big deal about a cattery prefix?

Well, of course you can breed without a prefix, but it’s like a family surname for your cats. It helps in working out pedigrees. Most breeders want a prefix that they can build a reputation on. You register your cats with a cat organisation under your prefix, so that owners have the reassurance of a certified pedigree,

In Britain, most catteries are registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). The process of registering a prefix with the GCCF is a long one: you have to fill in the prefix form, with up to 12 prefixes, get it signed by a cat club and then send it in with a £60 fee. The GCCF will scrutinise your choices, compare it with the approx. 25,000 prefixes they have on record, and if they sound the same, or even look the same, then they will contact you to choose a new one(s). If, however, your prefix is unique, the next step is that it has to be approved by the Executive Committee at their next meeting. When I spoke to the GCCF after the kittens were born, I was told their next meeting was in late August and so a prefix submitted then would not be approved until September.

It’s not a fast turnaround time as you can see. Because the GCCF was established some time back, the database of prefixes is very large (25,000 plus) and is not available for checking electronically on a web-site – everything has to be checked by the GCCF at their end. Another problem for me is that even if I get a prefix approved in September, because the kittens were born before the approval, I would not be entitled to use that prefix. Instead I would have to use what is known as a GCCF administrative prefix which is used for breeders who don’t already have a prefix.

So … even if I get a prefix with the GCCF, I can’t use it for the current litter. Which sort of makes it a waste of £60.AnandaTica1

So I’m going to register a prefix with TICA instead. TICA stands for The International Cat Association and is the second largest cat-registry in the United States. It’s still a fairly young organisation within the United Kingdom, but it is highly reputable with a strong presence in Europe. TICA shows are highly-regarded, and the breed standards respected internationally.

TeddyTica1 The TICA cattery prefix database is on a web-site, so there’s no need for multiple phone calls to find out if one’s already been chosen.

The main advantage about registering with TICA is that it’s faster. Or so I’ve been told.

I hope so. Because I’d like to register “Catswhiskers” as a prefix.

Or it could also be Katzwizkas. Or: Maximus, Allfurone, Coeurlion. In which case, this blog’s title will change.