We here at Happy Cat’s Litter would like to promote responsible pet ownership and to educate the public about cats in general.
To that end, I will be writing an article each month about a feature, event, health or other issue to do with cats or the cat fancy, that I hope will be of interest to many cat lovers and cat owners in the community.
My name is Nick Tricarico and I am an all-breeds cat judge with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (Victoria & Australia) Inc., which is affiliated with the Australian Cat Federation.
What does all-breeds mean? To qualify as an all-breeds judge, I studied at least 50 long and shorthaired pedigreed cat breeds which included examinations on theory and individual breed standards, cattery visits and cat handling classes.
I have judged extensively in every Australian state and in New Zealand. In March 2017, I was fortunate enough to judge in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and in May 2017 I judged in Qinhuangdo in China.
Each pedigreed breed has a breed standard which stipulates head shape, eye shape and colour, ear size and set, size of nose leather and nostrils, profile including the top of head, chin, nose shape, neck and body, legs, paws and tail, and coat colour, pattern and texture and allocates points for these. In our Association, a pedigreed cat must achieve 86 points out of 100 points to be eligible for a first and or a challenge certificate.
I like to look at the cat’s head front on. What is head shape like, eye and ear shape and set, what is eye colour like? Does the nose leather extend the full length of the nose and are the nostrils large enough for ease of breathing? Then I look and feel the profile. I then move to the neck and check that it is in proportion to the whole cat.
Next, my hand runs over the body. Is the body in proportion to the cat?
I like to run my hand across the flow of the coat from rump to shoulders. What is the coat length and coat texture like? Does the coat represent the pattern stipulated?
Then I run my hands down the legs. Are the legs in balance with the whole cat, what is the boning like, what shape are the paws? Sometimes I look at the colour of the nose leather and paw pads to confirm the colour of the cat.
I then glide my hand down the tail feeling it for any abnormalities. Is the tail of acceptable standard and length and in balance with the rest of the body? Is the cat well-groomed and presented? After all, it is a beauty pageant as well!
There are faults which preclude an adult exhibit from a certificate such as a kink or other tail deformity, overshot or undershot jaw, squinted eyes, lack of grooming, obviously incorrect eye colour, reduced nose leather and/or restricted or pinched nasal apertures, cow hocking of the legs, and others. Allowances are made for kittens such as age, lack of physical development and lack of proper coat.
Once I have judged all of one breed in the section, I pick a best of breed in section and then do the same with other breeds in that section. Then I pick the best in that section based on which exhibit best meets its breed standard.
The hardest group I find to judge is Companion cats. They are judged simply on presentation, physical health and most importantly on temperament. I hope this has provided you with some insight into the art of cat judging.