The International Cat Association (TICA) regional competition, Cats on the Beach, held September 11 and 12 in Marstons Mills gives the following advice to spectators, “If you hear someone yell ”CAT OUT!” please stand still and let the owner catch the cat. DO NOT TRY TO CATCH THE CAT!” Catching a fleeing cat is akin to grabbing minnows barehanded and since declawing is not a requirement, that is really good advice. During the show this past Sunday the yell of “Close the door! Cat Loose” caused people to move quickly to secure the exits.
There are fifty seven cat breeds listed in the category of championship according to TICA. Starting with Abyssian and ending with Turkish Van, some breeds are of ancient lineage such as the British Shorthair which is reputed to have come with the Romans from Egypt when they invaded England. Lewis Carroll modeled the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland after this breed. Newer breed include the Scottish Fold which was found in 1961 and has short, short ears that fold forward until they seem to disappear, giving the cat a slightly disarming appearance. Another champion breed is Le Perm, a cat that looks as though it has had a permanent wave. Like many of the newer breeds, Le Perm is a genetic mutation. This one was discovered in 1982.
Currently in the advanced new breeds category is the Savannah, another hybrid, this one an F1 hybrid (first generation). The first known Savannah was born on April 7, 1986 when a domestic cat gave birth to kittens sired by an African Serval. From a distance with its leopard spots it looks as though it stepped out of the jungle.
Melissa Alexander considers herself a small breeder. She has six Norwegian Forest cats. Like many cat owners, her involvement came about after several sad experiences with shelter pets convinced her she should try pedigreed cats Sunday, she is showed three of her cats. Her kitten, Lady Godiva (she calls her Girlfriend), is six months old. She can only compete as a kitten until she is eight months old. Prior to that time Melissa hopes to have Lady Godiva get a regional win. Melissa is president of the Cats On The Beach Chapter of TICA and her daughter, Christine, helps out at the shows. She says: “It is what I enjoy. I have an understanding husband and a good job. I have met people from all over the world doing shows. “
Diamond is a Sphinx kitten from Maryland. His owner, Dawn, got him last February because her son has multiple allergies and asthma and the Sphinx is hypo-allergenic. Actually, he is bald. She describes his gentle playful nature and speaks with dismay of a new movie coming out she has heard of which portrays the breed as nasty. She sighs when talking about people reacting to the cat’s looks. His skin feels like baby skin and he is wrinkly.
In a demonstration of true democratic principles, TICA has a show category for household pets (HHP) and kittens. And consider this inclusion, “ A cat not having all physical properties, such as eyes, ears, legs, tail (except as specified in breed standards), are ineligible for entry except in the alter classes or household pet classes.” That would never be acceptable at the Westminster Kennel Club. In this grouping was Audrey from Maine’s cat, Chicopee. “He’s my oops cat.” Says Audrey playfully. She explained that Chicopee was the result of a sneaky daddy who is a Japanese Bob Tail mating with an Oriental. Even though both parents are pedigreed the mixing puts Chicopee into the household pets class.
Also in the household pets group were Claire from Yonkers and Linda from Connecticut. Claire’s show cage had three occupants, all rescued by her from shelters. She admitted to owning a ”few dozen” cats and four rescue dogs. One of the cats with her was a rescue who was slated for a kill shelter when she took it. All of the cats live indoors and she says “she manages.” Next to her was Linda from Connecticut who was showing a black and white cat left with its cage in her driveway. She calls him “a gift from God” because she has lost four pets to old age since she got him. Now she is down to only ten cats. Her vet bills, she says, are $10,000 and her vet is wonderful to her. She has named him in her will.
The judges pick up the applicants and peer in to their faces, often commenting on the head size or shape, the color of their eyes. They wave a wand with a feather on its end at the cats to judge their reflexes. That same wand is replicated in many, many of the cages and seems to be a common way to get a cat’s attention. After two days of judging approximately 150 cats, each judge awarded their winners in each category.
Did Melissa’s kitten get the win she hoped for? Did Diamond take his category? Check the website for the winners of The Cats On The Beach competition.