by Marva Marrow
CFA shows are known for tough competition at all levels, and by showing a neutered or spayed cat you can sidestep the not-so-small issue of hormones and the ultimate role they play in your ability to keep your show prospect in top physical condition.
What is "Premiership?"
Premiership is one of three competitive categories for pedigreed cats at CFA shows. This category is for spayed or neutered adult cats (8 months of age or older). Competition has been very keen in the Premiership classes of recent years, and each year class sizes increase in size and competitive quality. Cats with previous National and Regional Awards, many of whom have produced kittens and are now just happy to be pets, have returned to the show ring in Premiership competition and been very successful. They have reached full maturity and glory (now that those hormones are no longer in control!) and as a result are more easily kept in good coat and weight. Some exhibitors also "specialize" in showing in Premiership competition, and quite a network of camaraderie has developed!
Exhibitors with a first show cat, or those who are considering breeding, but not quite willing or knowledgeable enough yet to invest the time, expense and complicated care that breeding entails, are encouraged to start with a Premiership cat. Showing Premiership gives the same excitement and fierce but friendly competition of Championship without the pressure. As one exhibitor put it, showing neutered or spayed cats is "premiership bliss." Breeders will often be willing to sell top quality specimens to novice exhibitors if they know these cats will be shown in Premiership, whereas they might not be so willing to sell a kitten or cat that will be used for breeding. There are lots of reasons that showing in Premiership is growing ever more popular!
Unlike the AKC, where neutered or spayed dogs may not compete for Champion titles, Premiership cats are celebrated in CFA. Whether or not they have reproduced is beside the point: These cats are beautiful representatives of many fine bloodlines and lots of hard work on the part of their breeders/exhibitors, and still draw interest from others who may wish to acquire a kitten from the various breeding programs showcased in the Premiership classes of today.
Can You Explain the Premiership Judging?
In general, in "class judging," cats are judged by breed in alphabetical order and within their basic longhair or shorthair class. You may find it confusing to see some obviously longhaired cats being judged in the shorthaired classes and vice versa. This is because the original variety of the breed (such as Scottish Fold, Balinese, Exotic, American Curl, Japanese Bobtail, etc.) was accepted for Championship by CFA in either a shorthaired or longhaired variety and subsequent varieties are therefore shown -- in different "Divisions" -- but in the same class, i.e. Scottish Fold Longhair (LH) is shown in the Shorthaired (SH) class.
The Premiership class is divided into Breed or Division categories, then further by color and gender within the Breed/Division. Each color class is comprised of three subclasses in each gender: Open, Premier, and Grand Premier. The "Open" class is the first in which a neuter or spay will compete. If there is more than one, let's say, Blue Persian neuter in a class, the judge will award a blue ribbon to the "first place" cat, a red ribbon to the "second place" cat, and a yellow ribbon to the "third place" cat. The blue ribbon cat will also receive a Winners ribbon, which is a red-white-blue award, six of which are required to attain the title of "Premier." It is often possible to accomplish this goal in one show, since nearly all shows have six or eight judges officiating. If that happens, you will need to fill out a "Champion/Premier Claim Form" which can be found in the show catalog and must be submitted to CFA with the appropriate fees.
If your cat comes into a show lacking one or more Winners ribbons, and if the required balance is received on the first day of the show, you may complete a transfer at the Master Clerk's table, and your cat will then compete as a Premier the following day. In this case, the Premier Claim form and check for the transfer fee must be given to the Master Clerk before the end of the first day of the show. It will then be forwarded to the CFA Central Office with the balance of the required show paperwork. Many exhibitors will also take advantage of this service if all six Winners ribbons are obtained in one show.
Once a cat has become a Premier, it competes with other Premiers by color class (as above.) The blue ribbon winner is then considered along with all other blue-ribbon Premiers in the Breed/Division for a purple ribbon, which designates the "Best Premier of Breed/Division". That Premier will receive one point for each of the other Premiers of that particular Breed/Division present and competing in at least one judging ring of the show. The purple ribbon winner will also be considered by the judge for a final award. If it is an Allbreed ring, the awards will be Best and Second Best Longhair Premier and Best and Second Best Shorthair Premier and then Best or Second Best Allbreed Premier in Show, chosen among these four cats. Best AB Premier earns one point for each Premier present in the show and competing in at least one ring.
For example, if there are 18 Allbreed Premiers present, then 17 points are earned for Best Allbreed Premier. Second Best PR earns 90% of the Best Premier's points. If more than two Premiers happen to be in the Top 10 Cats in Premiership in a ring, then the third highest scoring Premier would receive 80% of the Best Premier's points, and so on. Currently, 75 points are required to become a Grand Premier. That title is confirmed automatically by CFA within a few days of the show where the last of those 75 points are earned. With the number of entries at current shows, top quality cats can sometimes achieve this coveted title in one show!
Going back to class judging, once a cat has attained the title of Grand Premier, blue, red and yellow ribbons are awarded by color/gender, as the number of entries in the class require. The judge then compares the blue and red ribbon winners from the entire class (OP -- Open Premiers, PR -Premiers and GP-Grand Premiers) and awards a black ribbon, "Best of Color", to the best cat in that color class, with a white ribbon for "Second Best of Color" going to the next choice. Once all the color class awards have been made, an overall "Best of Breed or Division" brown ribbon is hung on the winner's cage, and an orange ribbon goes to the "Second Best of Breed or Division."
As you can see, the awards become increasingly important through a series of eliminations as a class progresses, and often a cat will have several flat ribbons hanging on its judging cage at one time. Most clubs have "permanent" flat ribbons for the judges' use; that is, the ribbons remain in the judging ring after the class dismissed. There are always other ribbons available in the ring from the clerk should you wish to keep your cat's awards. The stakes become higher as the goal then becomes "making the finals"; that is, being called to the ring at the end of judging and placing in the Top 10 cats in Premiership in each of the rings.
Points for "finals" are calculated somewhat differently at this level, with percentages declining by 5% (rather than the 10% increments for Premier wins.) Best Cat in Premiership would receive the total number of Premiership cats in competition, minus one point. Second Best Cat in Premiership would receive 95% of the Best Cat's points, with 90% for Third Best, 85% for Fourth Best and so forth.
An individual cat's points add up over time, and with good planning and some luck, a Regional or National Award might be achieved at the end of the show season! These are highly regarded and sought after titles, which reflect the quality of the cats and the tremendous amount of effort put into the "campaign" by the exhibitors! Campaigning all season long may sometimes be an exhausting road to follow, but always a worthwhile one with memories to last a lifetime!
When is breeding the Right Choice?
The decision to begin breeding pedigreed cats is a serious one indeed. To the uninformed public, high prices for pedigreed kittens can be a temptation to try profiting from something which seems so simple and -- of course -- warm, cuddly and very cute along the way. The reality of this sort of undertaking includes some undesirable factors which are not considered at the outset. First and foremost, there is great duty, responsibility, time and expense involved in providing proper indoor care for a breeding pair. A whole male cat will likely spray, will definitely have powerful-smelling urine, and will be quite vocal in making his desire to mate known. The female will be equally loud when in season ("in heat") and seeking a male, and will go through physical contortions, which often cause alarm to uninformed owners. Females also may spray or mark and are at danger for pyometra, a very serious uterine infection. These are just two of many considerations when deciding whether breeding is the right choice for you. Being a responsible breeder is something which requires a great deal of thought and dedication, while keeping in mind that financial rewards are not at all to be expected in this hobby. If you are interested in breeding, please contact the CFA Mentoring Program to be associated with a Mentor who can help and advise you in this very important decision.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This program is supported by
The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.
This program is supported by The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.