How The Digital Age Is Changing The Cat Fancy

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The year is 2017 . . . and the times, they keep on a-changin' . . .

The internet has been a technological revolution. It has transformed every aspect of our lives with a speed that has no real precedent in human history. In the past decade alone, all aspects of the world we live in has been affected by the growth of the world wide web.

No aspect of today's world, including the cat fancy, has remained untouched.

Computers, the internet, automated and online services, ecommerce, online payment options, bulk email marketing . . . they all mean business can take place faster, easier, inexpensively and with greater accuracy and fewer man-hours than ever before.

With some exceptions, the cat fancy in general has been relatively slow to recognize and embrace the advantages of the internet.

This is perhaps a reflection of the demographics of the people involved in the cat fancy. Most people in the cat fancy — breeders, judges, cat registry staff and officers — are middle-aged. Typically, the older a person is, the more reluctant they accept changes, especially new technology. Similarly, women tend to be less attracted to new technologies than men — and the cat fancy is predominantly female.

Whatever the reason, while the cat fancy as a group was initially slow to take full advantage of the many benefits and conveniences the internet allows, in the past decade real progress has been made. From cat-related businesses, to cat registrations, to cat shows, to how we sell our kittens . . . the landscape of the cat fancy has been changed forever by the internet — and will need to change even more if it is to remain viable in the contemporary world.

What is Next For The Cat Fancy?

We "old-timers" (and sadly that now means anyone over 30) grew up in a world so different from the world of the next generation of cat fanciers, that it is difficult to imagine how they will be attracted to and participate in the cat fancy.

But it is clear there will be significant changes . . . Let's take a nostalgic look back at how things were, how things have changed and will continue to change — and perhaps what the future may hold in store for the cat fancy . . .

The Goal

The Old Days

2017

What The Future MIGHT Be...

Looking For
A New Kitten
The show kitten buyer looked for a cattery to buy from by looking at advertisements in the classifieds of newspapers, cat magazines or a cat registry's yearbook. The kitten buyer goes online and surfs cattery websites and Facebook, looking at multiple photos, videos and cats from around the world. The kitten buyer goes to a single website, types in the breed/color/sex/quality of kitten they are looking for and the site produces links to all possible kittens within a certain search area that fulfills the conditions.
Registration
Registration slips were filled out with a pen, put in an envelope, a stamp was added and it was then mailed into central office with an enclosed check. Cat registries accept online registration and online payment for at least some of their services.

Software advances mean almost all registry functions become automated and digital.

All cat registries provide complete online services including registrations, title certificates, pedigree search and payment.

Individual Identification
Registered cats do not require an individual identification such as a microchip, tattoo, nose print, etc. Registered cats do not require an individual identification such as a microchip, tattoo, nose print, etc. All cats registered and recorded with a universal microchip with a unique ID and a GSP locater.
New Breeds
New breeds go through a long acceptance process typically taking years to complete.

Some new breeds are fast-tracked.

Hybrid breeds are met with resistance.

The next generation of cat fanciers are more open to the acceptance of new breeds. The number of recognized cat breeds climbs by 30%. Strict health and temperament conditions are instituted.
Information About
Cat Shows
Paper flyers were mailed out or placed on top of cages at the cat show. Most cat clubs use an online flyers exclusively. Show flyers are automatically downloaded to your phone or computer with text alerts sent as closing date approaches.
Entering A Cat Show

Exhibitors filled out an entry form by hand, placed in an envelope, a stamp was added and it was then mailed to the entry clerk along with a check a month before the show date..

Once the entry was received, a confirmation was mailed back to the exhibitor by the entry clerk.

The entry clerk hand entered each entry.

While most exhibitors enter online when a form is available, some still snail mail an entry along with a check.

Entry clerk software is available that records a cat's information the first time it is entered, so it can be automatically pulled up for later shows, reducing the work required to hand enter entries.

Entries are accepted online with an instant Credit Card or PayPal payment.

Conformation is automated and received by email within seconds of making payment. Conformation email includes a location map and driving instructions.

The entry is automatically inputted into the entry clerk's computer eliminating possible errors. Once the show closes, the software program automatically creates the breed summary, judges book and benching assignments.

A map of the cage set-up and the individual's benching assignment is included with the confirmation sent to the exhibitor.

Check-in

Exhibitor's line up while a clerk checks their entry, hands out a catalogue and benching assignment. and pay for their entry if necessary.

Some shows required a cat be checked by a veterinarian.

System remains unchanged except vet-checks are eliminated.

Since all cats are now required to be microchipped, a universal microchip reader automatically scans each cat as it enters the show hall, recording the numbers and identity into a software program.

Using this information, absentees are automatically calculated and changes made to the show catalogue, clerks' and judges' books.

Show Catalogue
Show Catalogues are printed and provided at check in. Show Catalogues are printed and provided at check in.

The show catalogue downloads onto individual exhibitor's tablets or smart phones. No paper catalogue is necessary.

Judging Book

The club prints out the judges' book.

The judge uses a pen and carbon copies to mark the book.

The final show results are sent to the cat registry so that they can confirm and compile the results.

The club prints out the judges' book.

The judge records the results for each ring judged.

The final show results are sent by courier to the cat registry so that they can confirm and compile the results.

Cat shows go paperless (with resulting savings allowing for entry fees and show club expenses to be reduced).

Software prepares an online judging "book" from entries automatically inputted as exhibitors fill out online entry forms.

Judges "books" are actually e-readers. The judge uses a touch-screen to "mark" the results which are instantly inputted at the relevant cat registry.

Results are automatically downloaded to an online show catalogue so that all exhibitors have an up-to-date "marked" catalogue.

All results and points are calculated automatically by day's end and titles confirmed within minutes of the last ribbon being hung. Any mechanical errors in judging are "caught" by the software at the time of judging.

Call To The Judging Ring
Announcements are made on loudspeakers or posted on bulletin boards. Announcements are made on loudspeakers or posted on bulletin boards.

The Show Schedule downloads onto the exhibitor's device with update alerts as things change.

Calls are made to the smart device of each individual cat exhibitor. Online images show which numbers and breeds are up in each ring, so that no exhibitor needs to walk to a ring to find out how things are progressing.

The same software that produces and tracks the actual cats currently being judged is also able to project conflicts and suggest to ring clerks and judges how to adjust to avoid the delaying problem.

Watching The Judging
Spectators at ringside watch the cat judging.

Ringside spectating remains unchanged.

Individual exhibitors sometimes video their cat's judging and upload it to Facebook so it can be shared with non-attendees.

Live streaming of cat shows becomes commonplace using inexpensive video cameras on the judging table.

Videos of each ring are available on registry and club websites. Several specialty websites feature cat show video collections — both the official videos produced by the cat club and any videos exhibitors film from ringside and wish to share.

Socializing At The Cat Show
Socializing was a major aspect of show cats as it was the main opportunity for groups of cat breeders to gather together, make contacts and share information. People had time to chat for hours between judgings.

With more rings/day there is less time for actual visiting between exhibitors.

Social media now plays a major role in developing relationships with other breeders.

This new generation is adept at socializing online and multi-tasking. They are reporting the show results to friends as the ribbons are hung, updating their Facebook and Snapchat with photos of their cat on the judging table, exchanging comments on twitter with exhibitors at other shows, chatting on a cell phone with a friend on the other side of the show hall and surfing the net for the best price on the new shampoo the person benching next to them just recommended.
Title Certificates
When a cat eared a new title, the certificate was mailed several months after being earned. The owner framed it, and hung it on the wall in the office Confirmation of points is available by automated telephone within a week in some registries. A digital image of the new title certificate is emailed to the owner within minutes of the final point being earned. The owner then uploads it to their cattery's Facebook page.
Show Standings
Published in a monthly or bimonthly magazine, months after the show/

Available within a week to a month in some registries.

Show Standings are updated in real time.
Scoring & Titles
Titles continue as they have been for decades, with occasional minor tweaks. Progress has been slow but cat registries create new titles — hoping to attract more entries by creating new titles for cats that would normally have been retired but can now aspire to earn new titles.

As younger cat fanciers move into positions of power in the fancy, they revamp and streamline the entire title and scoring systems.

More titles are added at all levels.

Meaningless titles that can be earned without necessary competition are eliminated..

Cat Magazines
& Yearbooks
Printed cat magazines and Yearbooks are ordered by snail mail after the end of the show season and arrive in the mail a year later.

Most cat magazines are online.

Yearbooks continue to be print published but are still received a full year after the show year has ended.

All cat magazines and Yearbooks go digital.

The buyer instantly downloads cat magazines and yearbooks onto their smart phone, tablet or e-reader.

Photos
Photographers use film and mail proofs from which owners ordered larger prints.

All photography is digital.

Photographers email clients photos.

Photographers use a digital camera and a laptop computer combined at the shows to immediately show clients their photos. Re-shoots can be decided on the spot..
Veterinary Care
The pet owner places their cat in a carrier and visits the vet's office.

Some vet provide mobile clinics that visit clients in their home.

Preliminary examination by web cam eliminates unnecessary office visits and stress on the animal.

Online consultations with certified veterinarians become standard.

Once initial exams are made online, animals are examined in person if the veterinarian deems it necessary.

Genetic Testing
Little information available

DNA test for specific diseases such as PKD, HCM (some breeds),

Every year more DNA test are developed. The health of pedigreed cats improves. Breeders are able to produce healthier and longer-lived felines.

It is exciting to imagine the future and what the impact of the digital age will be on the cat fancy.


References

  1. Bachiochi, D., et al. "Usability Studies and Designing Navigational Aids for the World Wide Web." Sixth International World Wide Web Conference. April 1997. http://proceedings.www6conf.org/
  2. Nielsen, Jakob. "Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design." May 1996. http://www.useit.com/alertbox/
  3. From an article entitled "Automation Keeps Them a Step Ahead" by Ellis Booker, Internet World (formerly Web Week), April 1996, p. 17. Also see CNETs article on how they do it at How CNET.
  4. Gerald M. O'Connell, from "A New Pitch" Internet World, May 1994 p. 56.

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