By: Kathy Blumenstock
It’s high dog show season, with the best-known one famously filling Madison Square Garden recently with more breeds than most of us can name, drawing a tail-wagging audience cheering for their favorite champions. What do cats think about dog shows? Seeing their canine compatriots trotting in circles, accompanied by very loud applause and bright lights, brings expressions of relief and gratitude: “Thank goodness I don’t have to wear a string and have someone pull me around a ring. And that noise, oh, my ears! And who are those people putting their hands all over the dogs? Maybe that dog who won, Banana Joe, would like to come over and play, he’s just about cat-size!” Cats are happy to relinquish all rights to shiny silver cups and oversize colorful rosettes to the dogs who deserve them.
But cats are fortunate that few if any cat shows are broadcast, or Fluffy might take permanent refuge bonding with dust bunnies under the bed. They’d recoil at seeing cats waiting in cages for their turn to be lifted and held high for judges to feel their bone structure and admire their coats, and cats being groomed almost nonstop. While it’s true that cat shows don’t require felines to strut smartly around a show ring, obediently heeling at their owners’ tug on a leash, there are similarities to the dog show world.
Cat shows do put felines on display, with strangers evaluating and examining their beauty. A gorgeous Chartreux named Edith in Susan Conant’s comic feline novel “Scratch the Surface” summarized cats’ feelings about cat shows, regarding the “lifting-up-in-the-air females” (cat show judges) as bringers of stress and anxiety, and admitting she much prefers home sweet home over the show circuit.
But with the inclusion of “regular cats,” categorized as Household Pets, in many cat shows, the Cat Fanciers Association, Inc., gave cat owners everywhere more to cheer about. Exclaiming over the regal looks of pedigreed Siamese or Scottish Folds and other amazing breeds is only part of a cat show experience. Household Pets, with no specific standard, are judged as a single group, not by age, gender or coloration, and are celebrated, with shiny red and white ribbons, for their uniqueness. Your own cat, a friend’s cat, anyone’s beloved calico, tabby or tuxedo, has as great a chance for glory as pampered pedigreed felines born for the show ring.
Cat agility competitions are also growing in popularity. Similar to the canine version, with obstacle courses that invite speed and cleverness, cat agility lets felines shine by showcasing their natural gift for the chase, whether climbing or weaving around poles to reach their target. If you attend a cat show that includes agility, you’ll be inspired to share your observations with your own pet, and maybe put him/her into training. Tell your cat that while dog shows are mere spectator sport, a cat show just might be a new adventure worth exploring.
What do dogs think of cat shows? Easy: they don’t.
Cat and dog via Shutterstock