A cat association is an organization that registers cats and kittens, selects cat show judges, and schedules cat shows. There are various cat associations in the United States, including the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), The International Cat Association (TICA), and the American Cat Fanciers' Association (ACFA). The largest of these groups, the CFA, registers more than 80,000 cats and kittens annually. All of the cat associations operate independently; cat clubs, breeders, and exhibitors choose which associations they wish to join and whose breed standards and rules they wish to follow.
An increasing number of local, regional, and national cat shows are held throughout the year in the United States, with hundreds of cats competing for awards. Owners show their cats for fun and to gain a reputation among other exhibitors and breeders. Cat shows do not award monetary prizes, and the entry fees and travel expenses can be expensive.
Although exact show rules and procedures vary from association to association, the general format is the same. There are four categories of competition: purebred kittens, purebred adults, purebred alters (cats that have been neutered or spayed), and household pets (mixed-breed cats or kittens).
A single cat show may have 8 to 20 different judges; usually, a cat is judged by every judge in the show. At cat shows in the United States, each judge has his or her own ring—an area consisting of 10 to 15 numbered cages and a judging table. Cats wait in cages in another area of the show hall, called the benching area. The owners bring the cats to the ring when called and place them in the judging cages. The judge takes each cat out of its cage in turn, places it on the judging table, and examines the cat carefully to make sure that it is healthy and meets the standard for that breed. After judging each cat within a particular class or breed, the judge gives out preliminary awards, such as Best of Color or Best of Breed. After judging all the cats in a category, the judge gives top awards to the ten best cats in that category. Each judge works independently, and judges' opinions sometimes differ markedly.
"Cat," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2003
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