In cat shows, did you ever wonder how a slim, short-hair Tabby could be judged next to a big-boned, fluffy Maine Coon?

Cats are judged in different categories and can compete in different shows. All-breed shows allow cats of all types to compete. Specialty shows allow, for example cats of similar coat length or type to compete against one another. According to the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA), each cat breed has a standard so that’s how they’re often judged. The breed standard describes the “ideal” as defined by a group called the breed council. However, there is enough room for interpretation, so each judge can make his or her own decision about each beauty or cutie on parade.

When entering a cat into competition, each owner completes a very long form, including some basic details such as breed and description. Except for the “household pet” category, entry forms also include pedigree information such as the sire and dame (dad and mom) and breeder.
If you’re planning on going to a show, a spectator guidebook or brochure will be helpful. The show cats are up for 11 separate color ribbons, based on breed criteria and other special categories.
Who’s giving out the ribbons? It could be someone just like you, given lots of time and training. Each judge must have at least 10 years experience in breeding, and they’re require to have passed exams and apprentice with experienced instructors. Judging is not a full-time profession for these men and women. All kinds of people become show judges.

For information about the specific qualifications for a breed, visit The site explains both what is desirable in each breed, and what would disqualify it from competing. Standards for breeds are continually changing, so check back often.

If you’ve been to a show, or if your cat has won some ribbons, send us pictures of you and your favorite pets!

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