Politics & Cat Shows - Strange Bedfellows

by Alice Kanteman, Canada

published in Cat World Volume 6, No. 1, March/April 1978 - Fanciers Forum

The age old disease diagnosed as politics plaques the North American cat show scene and a lot of it can be blamed on the judging procedures used. Here are some examples of what goes on:

(1) Exhibitor Sleek deliberately waits until the last call to carry his entry to Judge Slender's ring. Since he's ready and waiting to start, the judge cannot help but notice and recognize Exhibitor Sleek (who also judges) and his cat. (Note: Judge Slender is exhibiting next weekend and Sleek is scheduled to judge. A simple case of you-scratch-my-back-andI'll scratch yours.)

Exhibitor Sleek then waltzes his cat to Judge Lanky's ring and the cat does nothing in this ring. Judge Lanky does not know Exhibitor Sleek, you see.

(2) Judge Short has a lull between his regular judgings and his finals because of a delay in another ring. Exhibitor Hefty grabs this opportunity to have a lengthy conversation (about the weather, no doubt) with Judge Short. Results of Short's finals: Hefty's cat places number one.

(3) Judge Svelt is running for office in XXX cat organization and will need votes. Exhibitor Smooth is an influential person with a cat club or two and also with XXX. Judge Svelt awards special wins to Exhibitor Smooth's entry with the hopes of getting more votes

(4) Exhibitor Fluffy has a cat which has been rather unsuccessful in shows. The cat is bught by Judge Full who enters his purchase in subsequent shows. All of Full's judging friends find the cat to be one of the best

While the names are far-fetched and fictitious, the incidents relayed above are not. I and others have seen them happen.

In an attempt to put shows and judgings back into proper perspective, and to help prevent these sort of things from taking place, a cat club in California decided to hold a show a la British with American finals. While I did not personally attend, the show received an overwhelming response. Because of its success, it warranted an encore. This route has to eliminate a good percentage of politicking. Judges are not influenced by the presence of exhibitors and are free from glaring eyes. Added benefits: judfing is accelerated, show hall less chaotic (because there are no spectators and/or exhibitors), and the cats are calmer.

Another avenue of thought: cut slips. At least one cat organization has its judges issue slips which state on what he discounted an entry (which has champuionship status). After a few shows, the exhibitor can compare these devaluations and see the shortcomings of his cat -- or inconsistencies in judgings.

It's highly unlikely that any method is infallible, so I don't know where the answer lies, but North America's present way of judging needs to be revamped. Serious consideration should be awarded to the adoption of an alternative system.