Field Notes: Cat Lovers, Here’s What You Need to Know About Local Cat Shows
Field Notes explores Honolulu’s vast and varied scenes and subcultures. This month: the meowing world of cat shows.
Photos: Diane Lee
The Aloha Cat Fanciers’ cat show is a one-day, annual gathering of cat lovers from around the state. Men, women—and even some children—bring their kitties to compete for coveted ribbons. Judges from around the country fly to the Aloha State to score felines in various categories: longhair championship, shorthair championship, longhair premiership, shorthair premiership, longhair kittens and shorthair kittens. Championship cats are registered, unaltered purebreds 8 months or older, whereas premiership entrants are registered and altered adults. There is also a household pet division for nonpedigree cats—so any interested feline can join the fun.
Judges first evaluate the cats in color groupings by gender, awarding blue, red and yellow ribbons to one male and one female for each first, second and third place, based on breed standards. There are also “grand champion” and “best of breed” awards. Once judges have evaluated every cat in a class, they have a “final,” and then present rosettes to their choices for the top 10 entrants. Cat shows are unique in that each ring is an individual show, run by a different judge, giving competitors multiple chances to win, place or show.
Household pets, however, are judged in a single group without regard to sex, age, coat length or color. These cats are judged for their uniqueness, as there is no written standard for this category. Each household pet that reflects good health and vitality receives a merit award.
Walking into a cat show—particularly if it’s your first time—can be both confusing and overwhelming. Several rows of tables, covered with pet carriers of all shapes and sizes, sit in the center of the room. They’re decked out with ribbons, signs and other adornments, each carrier personalized for its feline inhabitant. The perimeter of the space is reserved for podiums and enclosures for cats that are currently being shown or those up next. Judges are talking, cat owners are chatting among themselves as well as with spectators and, of course, several stars of the show are meowing. It’s easy to get conversations going because, like proud parents of other babies, kitty owners are more than happy to tell you all about their little ones. Feel free to ask questions, take photos and gush about how beautiful the cats are—aside from awards and accolades, attention is what cat show competitors live for.
Most of the people gathered at the show are cat owners themselves, acting as spectators during downtime. Between showing their own cats and watching others show theirs, owners let their four-legged competitors rest, while giving other onlookers photo ops and/or a chance to pet the furry contestants.
These pet parents come from all different backgrounds, ages and experience levels. Though most show-goers seem to know the ropes, there are a few newbies, including River Siver and her 11-month-old chocolate-point Siamese, Olive. The duo flew over from Maui for the day just to participate in the show. “We’re novices,” Siver says. “We have no idea what we’re doing!” She says the breed standards are extensive, so it’s difficult to guess the outcome of the judges’ evaluations. But, win or lose, all the competitors seem to have a great time talking story, meeting new people and showing off their feline friends.
Interested in showing pedigreed cats?
The Cat Fanciers’ Association NewBee program offers resources to help new exhibitors learn:
How to prepare for a show
How to enter a show
What happens during judging
How to have fun exhibiting
Photos: Aaron Yoshino
Richard M. Fujie and wife, Donna, with Mattie, age 3, and Kaimana Bluebell, 9 months
“This is like a social club; it’s people who love cats. We have rescue cats, too. We don’t discriminate—we just love cats!”
Marylan Sanada, with Nohea, age 13
“I have another cat, but I brought her one year and she was just terrified—so I never brought her again.”
River Siver, with Olive, 11 months
“I’ve had a love for Siamese my entire life. I’ve never done this, but everyone’s being very nice and helpful—letting me know where to go and what to do.”
There will be a cat show March 18 at McCoy Pavilion, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Call Julie Prindle at 626-8855 for details.