By Marva Marrow

It happens over and over again. spectators approach exhibitors at shows and say wistfully, “I have a cat that to me is the most beautiful cat in the world, with the best personality. She is just a normal little kitty that I adopted from the shelter...”

Well, guess what? In CFA you CAN show your pet cat — in the Household Pet class. And you can compete for top awards and yearend placements. You can also show your pedigreed cat that is not “show quality” -- meaning that it has a conformation flaw or other reason for not being qualified for the Championship or Premiership (spayed and neutered cats) class. Here's how...

Which neutered or spayed cats can compete at a CFA show?

Neutered and spayed random bred cats/kittens, and pedigreed cats that do not conform to the written Breed Standard, may compete in a CFA show in the Household Pets (HHP) class as long as they have all of their claws (have not been surgically declawed).

Neutered and spayed pedigreed cats that DO conform to the written Breed Standard compete in a class called Premiership and may obtain prestigious titles and even yearend National and Regional awards.

What do I need to know to show my "HHP"?

CFA shows in most areas offer a Household Pet class, which is always one of the most popular and fun competitive categories. Many current exhibitors started out by showing a HHP, which led to further interest in pedigreed cats.

HHP's are found in just about any shape and size, and are required to be neutered or spayed by the time they reach 8 months of age (adult status.) Kittens may also be shown as long as they are at least 4 months of age. As mentioned above, cats and kittens must not be declawed. Although some HHP's are pedigreed cats that can't be shown for various reasons (straight-eared Scottish Folds is a good example or a Manx with a “normal” length tail), the vast majority are cats of mixed heritage, resulting in a lovely display of coat textures, color patterns and eye color for judges and spectators to admire.

In this class, judges are free to evaluate cats subjectively and often encourage exhibitor participation. Some of the cats have very interesting histories which owners are sometimes invited to share with the judge and audience. So don't be shy!

Your HHP must be bathed and presented in good condition, with clean eyes, ears and coat. Your HHP must also be free of external parasites, i.e. fleas and ear mites. Claws must be clipped on all four paws. These are the same requirements of pedigreed competition, and are an owner's duty to a beloved pet.

When possible, it is a good idea to show your HHP as a kitten to get him/her used to bathing and grooming, traveling in the car, spending time in the show cage and hall and to being handled by the judge.

Each HHP exhibit is evaluated by the judge, using criteria of condition and beauty. Personality and temperament are also extremely important factors in a successful HHP. A red and white "Merit" ribbon is placed on the cat's cage after judging, and you may take that ribbon with you when your cat's group is released from the judging ring. Of course you hope your cat will be brought back to the ring when the judge presents rosettes to his or her top picks in the HHP class. The excitement of your cat winning its first rosette is hard to beat, and is often the catalyst for further interest in pedigreed cats!

Does your family pet have an easy going, friendly personality? He or she could very well be an excellent candidate for showing as a Household Pet! Check shows in your area (see the Exhibitor Section of the CFA website) and contact the Info person listed for the show. On-line show announcements, with full information on entering your cat, can usually be found on the show schedule of regional web sites.

Have fun!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marva Marrow is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (IAABC: International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) with more than 30 years of experience. Her feline behavior business, The Kitty Kouch aids veterinarians, shelters, rescue groups and private clients. She is a frequent contributor and consultant to Cat Fancy and Animal Awareness magazines and to nationally syndicated newspapers. Marva breeds, shows and shares her home with her Oriental Shorthair cats. She may be reached at


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