This is my response to a Canadian pet column, which lists petcare tips on a variety of topics and invites comment. They had a tip on showing cats, and suggested aspirant new exhibitors contact the CFA to join up.
Here is my comment on their tip - which they refused to publish. Gee - I wonder why?
Here’s my tip for showing cats – leave the cats out of it. It’s not fun for them, it’s not kind and not natural for cats to be gawked and pawed over by the public at large, or hauled in and out of cages by stewards and judges 5 times a day, lifted up in the air, stretched, whirled around while the judge shows off for the public’s enjoyment, and have their mouths pried open while the judge looks for alignment of the bite. Or turned upside down and shaken (if they are Persian) in order to “float the coat”. There are some wonderful little expressions for the unkind things people do to cats in the "cat fancy" - and ditto dogs (like deliberately breeding deformity).
Cats generally are benched (put in their show cages) around 7am and some shows only end late in the afternoon. Some are “double shows” (twice the fun for everyone, except the cats) and only end late into the night. Then the cats have to be transported back home again – and many show people campaign all over the country, or shows can extend over whole weekends, so the travel can be significant. Anybody like to be shut in a cage for 12-15 hours a day, to see how it feels?
And when one comes to the realisation that winning at cat shows has more to do with “whether you’ve paid your dues”, who you’re connected with, what role you are playing on club committees, which judge you are selling your cats to, or getting them from, who you are wining and dining the night before the show – or providing accommodation for (I could go on and on – chapter and verse) – you then realise that the cat doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it. This is borne out by the fact that a cat can do well one week (or day) and poorly the next – and that’s sometimes in front of the selfsame judges. This is called “giving everyone a turn” – a pat on the head so you continue to support shows, by paying entry fees, breed fees, registration fees, club renewal fees etc.
So here’s a solution – leave the cats at home, and the catshow fraternity can vote amongst each other for the biggest “cat” of the day. And leave the four legged cats to enjoy their 5 rights of all sentient beings – one of which is to be able to express their natural behaviour – which they cannot do being kept in breed runs, carry cages, show cages et al.
A great quote from Jonathan Balcombe : “It is time our hearts caught up with our knowledge. Grounded in science and driven by ethics, we need a less selfish world-view that grants animals respect and consideration.”