A Guide to Showing Suffolk Cats
First and foremost you need a good show quality kitten when choosing your kitten ensure you speak to the Breeder and make it known your intention to show; the Breeder should be able to give you some guidance and point out which kittens they feel are of ‘show quality’ in accordance with the Standard of Points for the Breed which gives guidelines of what we are aiming for as an adult cat. As a kitten you will have some idea with regards to ‘eye shape’, Head shape / ears but some things such as eye colour won’t develop until later on. I say kitten, because ideally they need to be shown for the first time under 6 months of age. The breeder you have chosen will ideally have achieved success on the show bench proving to have an eye for selecting good show quality kittens; not all breeders show so not all will have this ability but there is plenty of help and advice available through the SBCC and people with many years experience and successes on the show bench .
The show environment will be strange at first and can be somewhat daunting to the cats so early exposure may help in their acceptance of it. Some cats and owners just don’t take to it; the show preparation, the travelling, vetting in, penning and being left, being removed and handled by several judges during the day can prove to be just too much for them (and you). However others will take it in their stride and even find it enjoyable. For the best chance of success it is better to start early on as kittens are generally more adaptable & often happy to be handled by ‘anyone’.
Start looking for suitable shows on the GCCF website, ideally not too far away or perhaps look at staying overnight in a ‘pet friendly hotel’ which can reduce the stress of travelling for both you and your cat. NB - You cannot enter two separate shows within 13 days of each other this is called the 13 day rule.
Looking through the Schedule you will find under Section 6 the ‘Suffolk Cat Breed Classes - The Open Class (Breed Class) is the important one - from 9months old your cat will be competing for ‘Title awards’. The judge of The Open class, will also award the BOB (best of breed)
Championship Certificates ‘CC's’ (Entire Cats) or Premier Certificates ‘PC’s’ (Neutered Cats) Requires three Certificates) under three separate judges and your cat becomes a Champion (Entire) or Premier (Neutered).- competing with Suffolk Breed only.
Grand Championship Certificates’ Grand CC’s’ (Entire Cats) or Grand Premier Certificates‘Grand CC’s’ (Neutered Cats) again three Certificates are required under three separate judges and your cat becomes a Grand Champion (Entire Cats) or Grand Premier (Neutered Cats).- competing with Oriental and Suffolk Breed.
Imperial you need five certificates - competing with Any Variety within Section 6.
Olympian five certificates - competing with All Breeds.
You can claim a Title Certificate from the GCCF and also purchase a Medal with your cats registered name engraved on it and title bars as your cat progresses can be purchased and added to the medal should you wish.
With each entry you get the Open and a couple of side classes included in the entry fee. Side classes can be a useful experience for your kitten to get used to being handled by the judges but are wholly down to personal choice you don’t necessarily need to choose extra classes until finding out your cats reaction to showing.
Some shows allow electronic ‘entry’ via your cats record on the GCCF website or you can Download the entry form, fill in your cats particulars, and either email or send off with BACS payment reference or send off with payment before the closing date, listed on the website. Copy the form before you send it off, so you can verify classes. Self addressed envelope for confirmation that your entry has been received is optional.
Now start getting your cat ready for the big day:
Your Cat must have a current certificate of vaccination against Feline Calicivirus (FCV), Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) and Feline Panleukopenia (FPV) (previously Feline Infectious Enteritis). The primary course must have been completed more than seven days before the show and its advised that boosters are given at least seven days before to allow the vaccine to take full effect and allow for any adverse reactions. Ensure the Vaccination Certificate is updated to show your name and address not that of the Breeder. The Vaccination Certificate and your cats GCCF Registration card must be shown at Vetting in.
Any white hairs should be removed, claws clipped (small human nail clippers are ideal for this and again something to get used to whilst being a kitten makes life easier later on as an adult),, brushing every day (maybe adding some specialist feed, salmon oil or oily meat to the diet to help the coat condition), finishing off stroking with a silk scarf which really brings out the sheen to the coat.
Cats must be clean ‘everywhere’ - The night before the show, I bath mine in Johnson's baby bath, or head and shoulders if they have some flakes. However if you are unsure about how your cat will react to being bathed or know they won’t tolerate it you can use sensitive baby wipes to make sure they are clean; remember ears and between their toes! Having some wipes on the day is useful too incase of any ‘cat carrier’ toileting emergencies or to clean if they use their litter tray in the pens.
White blankets / white vet bed, white litter tray, two white dishes - one for water - other food, white cat litter. (These can usually all be purchased at the show).
It is also a good idea to take something to disinfect the pen before putting your cat in; disinfectant wipes are ideal as no sprays are allowed to be used within the show hall. The pen bottom is usually cardboard but the rest will be plastic board and grill which can be given a quick wipe over before installing your cat.
Grand Champion Eastpoint Chocilac Rossetti - taking showing in his stride
Remember your Vaccination Card and your cats Registration Card . Make sure you arrive in time for vetting in (there may be a queue) and allow time for settling ‘penning’ your cat.
On arrival you will be given an envelope with your details written on; check that you are in correct classes as these cannot be changed after the show has started. You will proceed through to the Vetting in area there is usually a queue and you will be called forwards to the tables when they are ready for you. Have your Vaccination & Registration Cards ready; this will save time when you are called forwards and you can hand them straight to the ‘vet’ whilst you remove your cat from the carrier for their inspection. The vet will sign your ‘envelope’ and you can put your cat back into the carrier and go to your pen - the no. is on the envelope.
Note your pen number, keep the envelope safe as it holds your catalogue voucher and exhibitor sticker which allows you free access back into the hall after the judging. Give your pen a quick wipe down with your disinfectant wipes. Make your cat comfortable, and feed and water if necessary; final stroke over with scarf, check still ‘clean’ paws etc if has used litter.. The food has to be removed when the show manager asks for the show hall to be cleared. The food bowl must be removed at this point; just the cat, cat litter tray, water bowl and bedding should be in the pen.
At this point, there must be no trace of you and or your belongings, to identify whose cat is being shown. Place your cat basket and any ‘bits’ underneath the pen. Take out your Catalogue voucher & queue up for your catalogue. You can double check and mark the classes that your cat is in to make recording results easier later on.. Most exhibitors find somewhere to go and have their breakfast /refreshments at this point and wait until the hall re-opens.
From about 11 am onwards the results start coming in most shows have the results ‘boards’ set up in a separate area and you can check them as they come in sometimes before you are allowed back into the Hall. Look for your Open Class number on the results slips, and underneath, your pen number the placings will be written against the pen numbers. W/H means withheld, and CNH means could not handle.
Often they are separated in to male/female classes; kittens, adults and adult neuters will be separate. The BOB (Best Of Breed) will be chosen between the sexes. If your cat gets 1st and BOB it will then go forward to BOV (Best of Variety) and will compete against all the other kittens in Section 6.
After 12-30pm (check individual shows schedule) the show opens to the public and you can return to feed and pet your cat wear your exhibitor sticker to avoid paying entrance fee on the door. The side classes and BOV and BIS (Best in Show) take place after 2pm. Usually the show closes around 5 pm, sometimes a little earlier. BIS is the last judging to be done, and for the select few, can be quite exciting.You cannot remove your cat until the show manager closes the show.
The Judges write up on your cat will be on the GCCF website under Show Reports so you can read what the judge thought of him/her. This sometimes takes several weeks to appear so you may need to keep checking back. It is worth checking though as it can help you understand the reasoning for the judges placings/decisions and comments can also be useful in deciding whether to show your cat under the Judge as an Adult when you will be competing for Awards.
Hopefully you will have found this advice helpful and are encouraged to give showing a go!
Further information can be found on the GCCF Website - Good luck!