My First Show

BY Adia Kilpatrick
LoyalroyaL British Shorthairs

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New British Shorthair exhibitor and breeder, Adia Kilpatrick, reminisces about her first cat show - and shares her impressions...

Concerned about punctuality, I located the site the evening before the show. A bright green, nervous newbie with arms full of cats and cat stuff, confirmation letter pinched between fingers like an admission ticket, I arrived minutes past check-in - only to find there was no ticket collector checking off names and pointing out directions!

I blindly followed the flow meandering between rows of cages, searching for my name. Someone yelled names were posted on a chart near the front and the flow reversed towards the entrance. No chart faced the door - lo! someone spotted it on a column facing the concession stand ... of course!

Found my place, set down my meowing load and stood holding an expanse of fabric and scissors. While perplexedly studying surrounding cages decked like miniature theaters, a fairy godmother appeared to help dress my cage for the ball. She had to hurry, though, because at the stroke of ten minutes she'd have to clerk for a judge. A few waves of her wand of experience transformed my cage into a respectable receptacle - then she poofed.

As I finished propping the new scene, an unknown friend suggested I memorize my cats' numbers. I agreed, asking "how do I find what my cats' numbers are?"

"It's in your Catalog."

"Oh. Where do I get a Catalog?"

"You have no Catalog? Then you're not officially checked in yet! You'd
better get one before the judges mark you absent!"

"Uh-oh! where are they?"

"Why, the entry clerk should've marked you down when you arrived and given you one."

Arrghh! Raced to the front, where there now was not one but two entry clerks. Got my Catalog and flooded with relief to be officially present at last. Returned to sit by my cats and await my now-memorized numbers to be called. Heard a call to groom kittens. Having no prior awareness of the existence of portable grooming tables, I reached a brush into my cage.

Heard my numbers called to a ring. Jumped up, loaded kittens into my arms, raced to ring, placed kittens in designated cages, took place among spectators. Watched in fascination as the judge felt along tails, opened mouths, examined ears, ran fingers through fur and teased with toys,
punctuating each task with writing notes. Beamed at seeing ribbons placed by my cats and waited for the judging to be done. And waited. Others removed their cats, but I remained waiting to be told it was okay. When I was the lone soul seated, someone whispered, "When the judge turns down your number it's okay to remove your cat."

Blushing, I lunged for my cats then hesitated at the cages. I'd read to "not take the hard plastic ribbons," but had visualized "plastic" as picnic utensil material, not laminated ribbons. The clerk immediately educated me and retrieved the stolen ribbon. I asked about the remaining ribbons. "Uh, well, you can take'em if you want ... most folks don't ... they really don't mean anything." Hmmm ... came to show kittens for ribbons; got ribbons; ribbons meaningless - great! Took meaningless ribbons from subsequent rings anyway.

Spent most of show benched, straining to discern my numbers among raffle ticket numbers relentlessly blaring from the loudspeaker. Every person I handed aspirin to agreed raffle ticket drawings should occur at designated times and not be interspersed among calls to the judging rings.

The breeder of one of my kittens unexpectedly showed up to see how "her" kitten was doing. She asked what judges had seen the kitten, and I honestly couldn't remember judges' names. "What!," she shrieked, "Haven't you been marking in your Catalog?"

"Uh ... I didn't know I was supposed to be marking anything." She snatched the Catalog, ordered me to watch her purse and went off visiting the judges. She returned with a marked Catalog, but left me clueless about what the markings meant. Sigh.

My daughter and her friend brought me lunch, and as they'd never been to a cat show before, they combed the aisles to see the various breeds. They later reported that while most exhibitors were willing to discuss their cats, they found that the friendliest among them were "newbies" like
me.

I met two ladies showing the same breed as I who were wonderfully nice and didn't mind my hanging around them a while. I bought some grooming products they recommended and some nifty cat toys. A member of our own special CFA Mentoring Group here introduced herself and also was nice. I briefly met my mentor, and guess what? She's super nice! (Let's face it - we're a great bunch!)

Am I discouraged? No way! When I'm more sure about what I'm doing and less dependent on others, I'm sure the fun will begin. I'm told my second show (this weekend) will be less hectic because it's spread out over two days, and I'm looking forward.

I'd arrived at my first show fully expecting it to be a feet-wetting experience. I hadn't expected the water to be quite so cool - but I'm diving in anyway!!

(... to be continued)

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