What a wonderful feeling to be back after a long winter; greeting old friends, becoming acquainted with the new ones, admiring all the beautiful animals - veterans and first timers alike.
The occasion is a cat show - a meeting place for those who love cats, who seek to further appreciate and promote them and wish to connect to exchange ideas with others of a like persuasion. At least, it should be. But as in any other competitive sphere, sometimes the courtesies and the central purpose of the whole exercise get lost in the pursuit of what becomes the overriding goal - to win, no matter what!
Although I have shown purebreds off and on in the past, and perhaps will again, I have kept showing household pets for so many years largely because of the attitude of the most - not all, but most household pet exhibitors. The support and encouragement of each other and their cats; putting up a competitor's cat if he or she misses a ring call; offering grooming tips or other assistance when the need arises - all are indicative of an approach which, to my mind, is what cat showing should be.
We all want our cats to do well, but we can't all win Best of the Best every time. I took the view from the beginning that if each of my entries made one final, his being there had been justified and anything more was gravy. I found that this viewpoint helped me to keep my perspective, to appreciate that other exhibitors' cats were as important to them as mine were to me and to enjoy their triumphs as well as my own.
Which brings me to what I consider a vital aspect of cat showing: the social interaction among exhibitors and their behaviour towards each other and judges, which creates the general atmosphere at a cat show. I believe courtesy and good manners should be observed everywhere but particularly in a competitive situation. It's all too easy to let one's disappointment at not doing as well as hoped make one say something inappropriate or hurtful to another. A placement in the final is an honor,
not a right! We should all be in this for the same reasons and realize that a putdown of another exhibitor, a cat or a judge gains nobody anything. All it does is cause friction and ill-feeling, the antithesis of what the whole thing is about.
I would like to make the following suggestions, which are really only common courtesies but are sometimes not observed.
- If you can't say something nice, don't say anything.
- Don't criticize any cat or any judge's decision while in the show hall.
- Don't draw attention to your cat or you as its owner to judge.
- Do be both a gracious winner and a gracious loser.
- Do be encouraging to your competitors, especially newcomers.
- Do try to make the time to answer spectator enquiries.
- Do try to get your cat up to a ring first call.
Overall, I encourage all owners to least visit one show or enter a show. The shows are fun, exciting and overall enjoyment.