by Barbara George,
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
This year Cape Town hosted the Cat of The Year show (COTY) for cats registered under the South African Cat Council (SACC), one of the two registrars of pure-bred cats in South Africa, the other being Cat Association of South Africa (CASA) which is a member of the World Cat Federation (WCF).
In order to qualify for this event cats have to earn points throughout the year at cat shows held by the member clubs. Points are awarded for places in the various classes and for overall winners. Within each breed there are classes for kittens of from 4 to 9 months, while adult neuters and entires are judged separately in various categories depending on their status.
Show cats need to well-socialised to cope with a day at a show. Apart from the preparation, which may include a bath, there is the travelling to the show, staying in a cage, being handled by different people and having many people looking at you all day long. In addition there are noises, lights, cameras, and other cats to contend with. Cats that reach COTY have mostly been at shows since they were kittens and are quite used to the routine, many even enjoying the interaction and attention.
Breed standards are set by SACC for each breed, including Household Pet, also known as the Domestics, which only allows for kittens and neuters. While presentation and conformity to the breed standard are important to winning, personality and temperament are also taken into account, especially in the Household Pet classes. Points are allocated for the various aspects of the breed standard and the cat with the most points in a class is given first place, with the next cat second, a third place may be allocated depending on the number of cats in the class and their standard.
In order to become a judge at a cat show it is necessary to know the breed standard of the cats you will be judging. They attend training session, write exams, do practical work as trainees before finally qualifying as a judge – and that is for each and every breed!
The atmosphere at COTY is tense, everyone would like to win but ultimately there is only one winner in each of the main sections – kitten, neuter, entire and Domestic – and ultimately one Cat of The Year. Cats are not judged against each other but according to their breed standard. The final lineup of 3 cats from each category is judged by a different judge to the ones that selected the top cats in that category.
Winners and awards are announced at the gala dinner; those not attending keep a close eye on social media or wait for the following day to see the results. It is an honour and privilege to be included in the show lineup; all cats at the show are winners in their own right.
Cape Top Cat, which honours the best cats in the Western Cape, will be held in October this year. For more information on cat clubs, breeders, and cat shows in your area visit .