Philadelphia Cat Extravaganza - a judged cat show - petsitterbank

Philadelphia Cat Extravaganza – a judged cat show

Herding cats may be notoriously difficult, but competitively showing them is a much more organized affair, one visitors can experience firsthand when the Philadelphia Cat Extravaganza comes to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks in December.

Put on by Loving Cats Worldwide (LCWW), the two-day Cat Extravaganza will feature hundreds of felines competing across five rings for the title of Best in Show, just a month after the National Dog Show takes place at the same site.

While this isn’t the first cat competition to come to the area, or even to the Expo Center, the team behind LCWW wants to let the cat out of the bag and make what has typically been an insular community open and welcoming to everyone, said Emily Greene, a Port Richmond cat breeder and member of LCWW’s Feline Friendship and Advisory Panel.

“We wanted to market to the public because we felt the public doesn’t really know about cat shows,” she said. “We want to change that, we want to be in the public eye.”

Along with more than 80 types of purebred cats accepted into the competition—from the Egyptian Mau to the munchkin longhair—there’s also a competitive class for “alters,” which are spayed or neutered purebreds, and a class for household cats, which can be non-pedigree cats or cats that don’t meet the breed standard.

“A lot of people start off in the household pet class,” Greene said. “It’s really nice to have an appreciation for the cats that aren’t just pedigree.”

Within each class, there are three age groups: kitten (4 to 6 months), junior (6 to 10 months), and champion (10 months and older)

So, how does one judge a cat (aside from very carefully)?

Unlike a dog show, there are no handlers running felines up and down a catwalk on a leash (no matter how much we wish there were). Instead, the cats are brought to enclosures ringside, pulled out one by one, and placed on a table by the judge, who compares them against breed standards.

“The judge’s table usually has a scratching post, which is nice for cats to play with and it also lets the judge see the structure of the cat,” Greene said. “They then put them back, clean the table, bring out the others, and award first in breed, second in breed, and so on.”

When explaining their choices, Greene said a judge may note that a cat has “lemon eyes, is very affectionate, and feels like a warm peach.”

In a dog show, the best in a breed goes on to compete in best of group (ie, sporting, hound, etc.) and then on to compete for Best in Show, but at the Cat Extravaganza, judges pick their 10 favorites in each age category to compete for Best in Show, and they’re not beholden to pick cats from different breeds.

“So if a judge liked three Abyssinians, he could bring back all three for Best in Show,” Greene said.

A Best in Show winner is picked in each age category and from those, the judges vote on overall Best in Show. That means the one who wins the whole kitten caboodle could be a 6-month-old household cat or a 6-year-old purebred Maine coon. Champions receive a rosette ribbon and the right to be as catty as they want for a year.

The Cat Extravaganza is a benched show, which means breeders and their felines are required to be on site even when they aren’t competing, so visitors can see the cats up close and ask questions.

“Part of the reason you want to go is if you want to meet a specific breeder or you see a specific breed you may want to ask about,” Greene said.

Each day of the show, LCWW founder Steven Meserve also holds a one-hour talk called “The Catwalk with Steven Meserve,” where he presents various breeds to visitors and talks about their personalities so people can determine which type of cat may best suit their home.

The Cat Extravaganza will also feature area cat rescues, cat-product vendors, and professional cat portrait sessions (because who wouldn’t want to capture a Memory like this).

While LCWW hopes to include cat-agility demos into their programming someday, Greene didn’t know if those would be a part of the Philly show. However, “a feline fashion show is a definite,” she said.

Well won’t that just be the cat’s pajamas.

The Philadelphia Cat Extravaganza will be Dec. 17 and 18 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. To purchase an admission ticket or register a cat for the show, visit lcwwgroup.com.

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