Understanding Cat Shows

So we when decided to show Xena and Shinobi in a cat show we had no idea what to expect. We scoured the internet and various resources trying to understand how a cat show works and it was super confusing. It wasn’t until we actually participated that we truly understood how they worked. This is our attempt to bring some clarity to the world of Cat Shows.

Shinobi and Xena at their first cat show

Where can you find a list of shows:

USA: http://www.catshows.us/
Canada: http://www.catshow.ca/

Here’s some basic information on Cat Shows:

Rings are individual cat judgings

Each cat show typically has ~4 rings (I’ve seen as few as 3 and as many as 6).

Each ring has its own judge and is completely isolated from the other rings.

Each day is separate from every other day

If the show goes multiple days then the only difference between each of the days are the judges. Each day will have a new set of judges — everything else is the same! So if you have a 2 day show with 4 rings each day you really have 8 completely judgings going on over 2 days.


When your cat is being judged they are first judged against the other cats of the same breed, sex and colour. It’s very possible that a cat may be the only cat of that sex, breed, coat and colour, especially with cats of lots of different colours. We have Brown spotted Bengals (Male / Female).

Next they judge against the same breed, coat and colour. We have Brown spotted Bengals.

Then they judge against the same breed. We have Bengals.

Finally they judge against all cats in the same rank: Kitten, Open / Championship, Premiership, Household Pet. Note that Open / Championship compete together; however, the rankings are Open -> Championship -> Premiership.

Read more about Awards / Ribbons

Xena finishing as the #2 overall kitten

How do I enter a show?

Once you have found a show and decided you want to enter the process is really simple. Just contact the clerk for the show and fill out the form. They’ll be able to tell you anything you need to know for requirements. Typically you’ll need to be registered with the association for that show (TICA, CFA, CCA), fill out the form and pay the entry fee. You can usually do it all by email.

What should I bring to my first show?

  • Cage (optional) — they will provide a cage in the show, you do not need to bring one. If this is your very first show — don’t buy a cage. You should wait until you see if your cat takes to shows (quite a few do not like it). The cage they provide is adequate.
  • If you don’t supply your own cage then you should supply the following:
  • Cage Curtains. You need to surround the cage with curtains so that your cat cannot see the other cats or what’s going on around then. Super important (and mandatory by the show)
  • Cage Floor. We liked to get a soft bottom (rug or something similar) that they can lie on instead of the table (note that the cage is sides and top only — there is no bottom to the cage).
  • Absorbent Padding. Basically if they have an accident or spill water you don’t want them lying in it all day — a padding on the bottom to soak it up makes it so it doesn’t spread and you can clean it up easily.
  • Bed (optional) — somewhere for them to relax — it’s going to be a long day.
  • Litter Box — the show will provide litter (though we’ve found that frequently it takes the show a while to provide it) however, you should consider bringing some of your own as they may not like the show’s litter. The show does NOT provide a litter box though and you are expected to bring one.
  • Toys — it’s going to be a long day — they need something to do.
  • Paper Tower — super useful for any messes that may happen.
  • Food / Food Bowl — it’s good to get something stable that’s not easy for them to knock over.
  • Water / Water Bowl — if you can get a water bowl that hooks to the side of the cage — that’s best — otherwise something super stable. We like the metal bowls with rubber bottoms.
  • Brush / Comb — something to straighten out their coat with

Anything beyond this list is really up to you. There are cleaning / coat sprays, baby powder, ear cleaners, the list goes on and on.

What should I expect to happen at the show?

  • When you arrive you will check in with the clerk who will tell you your seat assignment, your cat’s assigned number, give you the schedule and take your money if you owe it.
  • Take your cat(s) to your table and setup your cage. If they are providing you with a cage and one isn’t there, go and ask the clerk. Leave your cats in the carrier until you have fully set up your cage.
  • Put your cats in the cage, try to settle them down. Give them a chance to go the bathroom, eat and drink.
  • Checked the schedule and look at each ring and when your times are. They should be spread out throughout the day.
  • Wait for your number to be called — they will announce the numbers and the ring to go to.
  • Take your cat to the ring and put them in the cage with your number on top.
  • Close the cage and get out of the judging area — they don’t want you hanging around.
  • Feel free to watch the judging and when the ring clerk takes your number down that’s your cue to take your cat back to the cage.
  • If you won any ribbons (congratulations!) they will be on the cage before they take the number down.
  • Wait for your number to be called again.
  • Talk to visitors, talk to neighbours, check out other cats, read a book — there’s a lot of waiting.
  • If you are in a multi-day show then it’s expected to leave your cage setup for the next day. Take your valuables; but it’s fine to leave your litter box or other inexpensive items at the show.