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The Cats Invade the Bayshore for the First Recorded Shows in Owen Sound

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It is the pursuit of perfection.

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For 74 cats and their humans, the first-ever Canadian Cat Association (CCA)-sanctioned No Name Cat Club cat show at the Bayshore on October 15-16 wasn’t just a chance to show off, it’s a chance to set the standard.

Bred, born and bred to meet the CCA’s “breed standard”, these cats are adored and celebrated. Kings and Queens. It’s hard to know if winning a ribbon or being named the best cat in any category fits among the animals, but one thing is clear, there are no losers at the cat show.

It’s still the same catnip at the end of the day.

Win or lose, cats are carried, placed in strollers and treated with the utmost respect and affection by their masters. Judges take great care and have trained extensively in describing to an audience what makes the cat special, and what makes a cat special in the eyes of a cat show judge is how well it matches the standard.

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Each of the more than 50 cat breeds registered by the CCA has a written breed standard. The notes – sometimes two pages or more – describe in detail what a judge should expect to see for a given breed.

The spotted pattern of the Bengal cat should be random, horizontal or diagonal; with little or no resemblance to a “broken” mackerel or a classic tabby.

The Persian cat’s coat should be long, soft, dense, fine-textured, shiny, full of life and should be kept away from the body.

The eyes of the Himalayan cat should be large, round and set far apart. Eyes free of any matter or discharge. When you look at Himalayan’s face, you should see a soft, open expression.

ACC all-breed judge Terry Farrell said each cat enters the judges’ ring with a score of 100 and points are deducted. Points may be deducted for several reasons, primarily for any deviation from the official breed standard by coloring, head shape, eyes, coat, etc.

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“The competition, the game here, is for breeders to go home and breed cats to match the standard. They bring them here and I pick the cats that best meet the standard,” Farrell said. “There is no opinion involved. There shouldn’t be. I mean, you can’t help but have your sideburns, if a cat hits you, it’s like “I don’t like you”, but you have to be totally objective.

If a cat’s score falls below 90 points. They are disqualified.

Heather Garvie is the president of the No Name Cat Club and lives in Owen Sound. She, along with her club mates, organized the first CCA-sanctioned cat show in the city. She brought along her Abyssinian cat – registered name Control, call name Max – who finished in the top ten of the Premiership class on Saturday, a competition class for purebred cats eight months and older who are spayed or spayed.

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There are four classes of competition in a typical cat show. In addition to the Premier class, there is the Championship class for purebred or neutered cats, the Kitten class for purebred kittens four to eight months old, and the Pet class for cats. unbred or purebred cats that possess faults preventing them from being competitive in premier or championship classes.

Garvie said breeders and handlers can spend up to two hours or more before a show grooming their cats for showing.

“Plus, there’s weekly care and everything,” she said.

Garvie’s brother and mother were allergic to cats. She grew up with dogs as pets. When she moved, she got a rescue cat and later fell in love with the Abyssinian breed. The passion was born from there.

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Four-month-old Persian kitten Crème Brûlée with breeder Shirley McCollow of Stoney Creek at the first Canadian Cat Association of Owen Sound cat show hosted by The No Name Cat Club at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Center on Saturday.  Crème Brûlée won the prize for best kitten on Saturday afternoon.  Greg Cowan/The Sun Times
Four-month-old Persian kitten Crème Brûlée with breeder Shirley McCollow of Stoney Creek at the first Canadian Cat Association of Owen Sound cat show hosted by The No Name Cat Club at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Center on Saturday. Crème Brûlée won the prize for best kitten on Saturday afternoon. Greg Cowan/The Sun Times

There is a good dose of pleasant humanity at the cat show. Hundreds of people celebrating shared love and passion quickly sweeten the oddness of seeing pets cared for and pampered to an almost absurd level.

When a judge announces each of the top ten in descending order, it is cat show etiquette to cheer loudly. If there’s fierceness or sassiness in the competition, it’s well masked — despite some common clichés about cats and their people.

“It’s more social,” Garvie said. “Although I can see someone getting upset if their cat gets thrown out. Everyone is going for the points.”

Cat show season runs from May to April and points awarded at each CCA-sanctioned show count towards the overall annual ranking.

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Money is at stake.

If a cat is doing well, its breeder may charge a higher stud fee if it is a male cat, or sell the kittens for a better return as they will come from championship stock. Reputations are also at stake. Breeders spend decades building their reputation in the industry.

Farrell said he was aware of the fact when he was judging.

“I’ve been doing this for 35 to 40 years. I climbed the ladder. I know what they are going through. I raised cats. I know the trials and tribulations. It’s not necessarily an easy thing,” he said. “You can’t just put two purebreds together and have all these award-winning cats.”

Shirley McCollow traveled to Owen Sound from Stoney Creek with a pair of Persian cats. Her four-month-old baby named Crème Brûlée won the prize for “best kitten” in her class on Saturday afternoon. She bred Persians for 30 years trying to reach the breed standard. And she loves it.

“It quickly becomes what your weekends are based on, going to cat shows,” she said. “And then what your life is based on.”

For more information on competitive cat shows and the event in Owen Sound, visit www.cca-afc.com.

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