Summer 2012 Magazine

Cat Chat

Cat Shows and Cat Rescue

By Nancy Marano

Recently I worked at the Feline Fiesta Cat Show, sponsored by Albuquerque's Enchanted Cat Club. The purpose of this TICA (The International Cat Association) authorized show is twofold. The show is for pedigreed cats to earn points leading to rosettes and awards. The second purpose is fundraising for rescue cats. For many years the Enchanted Cat Club has given all the profits from its shows to Albuquerque cat rescue groups.

"We used to support the zoo with the donations from our shows but then we decided the zoo had many supporters. The small, local companion animal groups that depend on volunteers and fosters to rescue cats deserved our help," said Vickie Fisher, President of TICA and an Enchanted Cat Club member.

Non-pedigreed cats are welcome to enter TICA shows as Household Pets (HHPs) and owners are encouraged to participate by registering and showing their cats. HHP's are cats of random or unknown breeding. Many HHPs have been adopted from shelters or rescue groups while others were rescued from the streets. HHPs are divided into two groups - Household Pet Kittens (4-8 months) and Household Pet Adults (over 8 months). All adult HHP's must be spayed or neutered before being shown. HHP's are judged on their overall condition, health, grooming, personality and beauty.

In the Albuquerque shows, and at many other TICA shows across the country, cat rescue groups are invited to bring cats to the show for adoption and set up a booth to talk about their rescue organization. Several Albuquerque rescue cats have won top TICA awards because they were brought to the show from the shelter or a rescue group.

One such cat was Hi Jinx, better known as Jinx. In 1997, he came from Albuquerque's Eastside shelter along with several other kittens to the Howl-O-Ween Cat Show. It was love at first sight when a former breeder, Liz Witt, saw the small blue and white kitten. Witt adopted Jinx and took him home to Plano, TX.

Soon Witt began entering him in TICA cat shows all over the country where he participated in the Household Pet Kitten division. No one, least of all the judges, could resist the personable kitten. He racked up points at every show he attended on his way to the championship. Jinx finished the show year as TICA's International Household Pet Kitten of 1998. It's a long journey from the Albuquerque shelter to top international kitten but Jinx is living proof that it can be done.

One of the kittens adopted from New Mexico Animal Friends became a Regional Winner and proudly went to her new home with many awards and rosettes. In the last issue of PETroglyphs we talked about Lucky, who was adopted at Lucky Paws after spending several months in the Eastside shelter and more months at Lucky Paws. He also won championship honors in several shows and has become the poster boy at Lucky Paws. These cats prove something cat lovers already know that rescue cats are stars in the rough.

At Albuquerque's TICA shows in May and October a ring is set up to show rescue cats in hopes of getting them adopted. The judge talks about each cat, describes its fine points and tells whatever history is known about the cat. It has been a successful way for people to see rescue cats. Many cats have been adopted at these shows by breeders, exhibitors and the public. In fact two of my cats, Sammy and Rocky, were adopted at the Howl-O-Ween Cat Show a year apart.

The ready acceptance of non-pedigreed cats into the TICA cat shows, as well as the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) shows, seems odd to people who believe cat shows are rather snooty and only care about pedigreed cat royalty.

According to Fisher, "TICA is about cats. We want people to care for and appreciate all cats. The more worth and value people place on cats, the fewer abandoned cats or unintentional breedings there will be."

People also come to cat shows to see cat breeds they would never see in their regular life. Motzie, a Savannah cat and the third tallest cat in the world, was an honored guest at the Feline Fiesta show. He and his owner Deborah-Ann Milette did publicity for the show by going on the Eyewitness News 4 Today show with Steve Stucker. His television appearance encouraged quite a few people to come to the show just to meet Motzie.

Savannah cats are a cross between a domestic cat and an African Serval. Strikingly beautiful, these tall, large-eared, jaguar-spotted cats were recently accepted for championship status in TICA. Motzie serves as a therapy cat for his owner and visits hospitalized veterans. He also participates in children's reading programs and is an ambassador for his breed. As Milette says, "When Motzie appears, the cameras come out."

A truly international organization with member clubs all over the globe, TICA is the largest genetic registry of pedigreed cats and the world's largest registry of household pet cats.

When asked earlier this year by to explain why someone with a non-pedigreed cat should get involved in TICA, Fisher said, "By encouraging people to register their non-pedigreed cats, we hope they will join us at our shows, enjoy themselves, and just have fun with their cats. Many of TICA's members are involved in cat rescue and find that the shows are useful in placing cats in need of homes and educating the public on cat care. Being part of a larger, cat-oriented organization, allows people . the opportunity to interact and share their passion for cats. Cat shows are a great family activity."

It is time to think outside the box- although you may not want to use that phrase around cats. Cat shows are for everyone who loves cats. One person may be showing a pedigreed cat to earn awards while another is trying to get a rescue cat adopted. But everyone in that show hall loves cats. That is the common denominator tying the show together. These people wouldn't be there otherwise. A person with pedigreed show cats may end up adopting an irresistible rescue kitten like Jinx and a rescuer might find a person to foster for their group or people to adopt their cats. By the end of the show the cats and people are tired but all have had a good time. Why don't you try going to a cat show next time one is in town?

Nancy Marano is an award-winning writer who is owned by three cats, Sammy, Callie and Max. Callie and Max are new additions to the family. She is a member of the Cat Writers' Association and Dog Writers of America.

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