What is TICA?
TICA is The International Cat Association, one the world’s largest genetic cat registry and is one of the largest sanctioning bodies for cat shows.
What are the do's and don'ts when visiting a cat show?
There are no “rules” for visiting a cat show per se, but common courtesy applies.
Watch out for people carrying cats and allow them to pass, they are trying to get to and from a judging ring.
If you hear someone yell “CAT OUT!” please stand still and let the owner catch the cat – under no circumstances should you try to catch the cat yourself.
Some cats are easily frightened by loud noises or sudden movements, clapping is always welcome while you observe judging but try not to scream or get too loud. If you have children with you please prevent them from running or shouting in the show hall.
Cats are susceptible to a large range of diseases which can be passed from cat to cat by human hands. Please do not pet any cat without asking the owner first. If the owner offers some hand sanitizer, it’s not personal, they’re just taking precautions to keep their babies healthy.
Please do not walk into judging rings – this is the only off limit area in a cat show. If you want to see any cat up close walk through the benching areas. Most owners will be happy to show off their cats and answer any questions you may have.
Will I find cats for sale in the show hall?
Exhibitors often have cats for sale in the show hall, or they might have kittens or retired adults at home or they may be expecting litters. If you see a particular cat you like feel free to ask the exhibitor what they have available or coming up.
There will also be rescue groups present who have cats from that are available for adoption and looking for forever homes!
How many breeds are there?
TICA currently recognizes 71 breeds for Championship competition. As of May 1, 2017, the Lykoi and Bengal Longhair will also be recognized for Championship competition.
Does every cat competing have to be purebred?
There is no such thing as a purebred cat. All cats at one point or another have intermixed with another breed and that is how we get the variety of breeds we have today. Cats that are considered “purebred” are actually pedigreed, that means that the cat’s ancestry is formally recorded.
TICA allows non-pedigreed cats (cats of random or unknown breeding), or pedigreed cats with “faults” (this includes missing eyes or limbs but otherwise healthy and most importantly HAPPY) to compete as Household Pets.
Ok, I get it – how does the competition work?
Glad you asked! A TICA cat show is actually a number of smaller shows all running at the same time in various “rings” throughout the show hall. Each ring is run by a licensed TICA judge who evaluates each cat based on a written standard that describes the “ideal” for each breed. Household Pets and Household Pet Kittens are not judged against any standard (because they come in so many variations!) but instead are evaluated on overall condition, health, appearance and personality.
Hold on, where can I find these standards?
The written standards for each breed cat be found here.
Sorry for the interruption, back to how the competition works…
No problem, TICA recognizes cats for competition in 8 classes:
Kittens – Pedigreed Cats 4-8 calendar months old.
Championship Cats – Adult pedigreed cats 8 months or older.
Alters – Adult spayed or neutered pedigreed cats.
Household Pet Kittens – Non-pedigreed kittens 4-8 calendar months old.
Household Pets – Adult non-pedigreed cats.
Preliminary New Breed – This is a special class for evaluation of new reeds. The intent of the new breed classes is the eventual recognition for championship competition.
Advanced New Breed – Like Preliminary New Breeds, this is a class where the cats are getting close to recognition for championship competition.
New Traits – This class is for the evaluation of new traits, such as new colors, patterns and hair-length in currently recognized breeds.
So all these cats compete against each other?
No, each class is judged separately and independently of each other. For example, alters are not judged against kittens, Championship Cats are not judged against Household Pets, etc..
Ok, I’m still with you.
Great! So, all around the show hall you will see various judging rings. These are usually made up of an L or U-shaped arrangement of cages with the judge’s table in the center. All TICA judges are trained and licensed to thoroughly evaluate each breed of cat in order to determine how well they represent their individual breed standard.
There are two types of judging rings at TICA shows: Allbreed rings and Specialty rings.
Allbreed rings will have all the longhair cats and shorthair cats within each class judged together in competition with one another. In a specialty ring longhair are only judged against other longhair cats within the class.
That’s a lot going on – how do you keep track of it all?
Each judge has two people assisting them in the ring, a clerk and a steward. The clerk is the judge’s executive assistant they are responsible for the accuracy of all records of the ring. Each clerk keeps a marked catalog of the results of the ring and validates that what the judge writes down in their own records is accurate. The steward helps keep the cages clean and disinfected between cats in order to minimize the chances of disease spreading.
So all of the cats are judged, then what?
The cat show competition process is structured like a pyramid. First, all of the entries are divided into their respective classes. Within these classes, cats are called to the judging ring according to breed, division and color/pattern.
The judge handles each cat placed in the judging ring. Each cat is taken from their cage, placed on the judging table and evaluated against the written standard for the breed. Some judges will use toys to get a better look at a cat’s eye shape, ear size and placement and overall balance.
Although some associations make a cat’s title known, the only information provided to a TICA judge about each cat is its: breed, color, sex and age. The judge has no way of knowing if it is the cat’s first show or how it has performed in other rings.
So judging is a process of elimination?
Exactly! Think of it like a pyramid, after the judge is done evaluating each cat in a breed group, they will hang a colored ribbons on the cat's cages to award Best of Color and Division. TICA does not have Best of Breed ribbons but the judge will announce their choices and also note their selections in the Judge's Book. The clerk will also write down each of these selections for the record.
Place Color Division
Best Blue Black
2nd Red Purple
3rd Yellow Orange
4th Green -
5th White -
TICA judges narrow down their top cats by deciding Best of Color, Division and Breed out of all the competing cats.
Best of Color: The judge will first award the best of color through the 5th Best of Color for each breed. For example, if seven blue British Shorthairs are competing; the judge will select and rank five of the seven. The cat is judged against the whole breed standard, not just color. Out of the seven British Shorthairs competing they are judged against how the meet the full British Shorthair standard. “Best of Color” does not necessarily mean that the cat has the best blue coat.
All Household Pets and Household Pet Kittens will receive a Best of Color award regardless of how many cats of a particular color there are.
Best of Division: From the color winners, the judge will select a Best, Second and Third Best of Division. For example, the seven blue British Shorthairs belong to the Traditional Solid Division. Other solid colored British Shorthairs (white, lilac, cream) would also be judged in the Solid Division. Tabbies would be judged in the tabby division and so forth.
Household Pet Kittens do not receive division awards.
Best of Breed: Once a judge has selected their First through Third of Division cats, they will select Best, Second and Third Best of Breed from all of the breed’s divisions.
Household Pet and Household Pet Kittens do not receive breed awards.
So what happens after all of that?
After the judge has seen all of the cats in a particular class, they decide on their best exhibits of each breed the and ask for them to be returned to the ring for a final. Finals are essentially a "Best in Show" for that particular ring.
Earlier placements are taken into consideration during finals as a cat that came in Second of Breed cannot place higher than a cat who was Best of Breed and so forth.
The judge will then explain their placings – between Top 5 and 10 depending on how many cats are competing. If there are 20 cats or less competing in one class the judge will award a Top 5, 21 cats are a Top 6, and so on, up to 25 cats or more which awards a Top 10. The only exception to this rule is the Household Pet and Household Pet Kitten class where a maximum of 10 places are awarded regardless of the number of cats in competition. So If only 8 Household Pet Kittens/Cats are competing the judge will award 8 placements.
This is a lot!
It is, but remember that each ring is its own mini-show within the larger show. As each judge judges they final what they consider to be the best examples in each class in competition – each judge has their own “best in show” in each class.
Ok, I’ll try to keep up.
If you get confused there are plenty of friendly people who will explain everything to you!
So what do you get for showing your cats?
Outside of pride in your baby and the quality time you get to spend with your cats and making new friends from all over the world, the cats earn points and titles depending on how they do. They can go all the way to winning International Awards which means that out of every cat shown in TICA that year they are in the top 25 worldwide!
I love cats and this all sounds pretty cool, can I join TICA?