’s Insider Guide to Cat Shows

Just a couple weeks before the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show comes the big cat show being staged in San Diego. As contributing editor for, Arden Moore of Four Legged Life chats with Joan Miller, a renown cat judge and breed expert who shares insights.

Here is a portion of that story posted today on

Fascinated by felines but don’t know a Cornish Rex from a Sphynx? Wonder what a judge looks for when selecting best in show? Eager to witness the fast-growing sport of feline agility? Then it might be time to go to a cat show.

If you’re in the San Diego area, you can satisfy your curiosity about all things feline this weekend at one of the nation’s largest and oldest cat shows, the San Diego Cat Fanciers’ Food and Water Bowl XX, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, Calif. Scheduled two weeks before the Westminster Kennel Club’s 136th Annual Dog Show at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, the Del Mar cat show will feature more than 450 felines representing 41 breeds in eight rings of competition.

So what really happens at a cat show? What’s the proper etiquette for feline fans? For answers to these questions and more, Vetstreet spoke with Joan Miller, vice president of Cat Fanciers Association and chairwoman of its outreach and education committee, who’s arguably one of the nation’s top cat experts.

Q: What are some dos and don’ts for spectators?

A. Joan Miller: Please do not disturb the judges when they are evaluating the cats. Look for our team of roving ambassadors wearing “Ask Me” buttons; they’re more than happy to answer your questions. Leave your own cats at home — the only cats allowed in the show hall are those who have been registered in advance.

Q: What’s the proper way to greet a cat? Will I get the chance to pet a show cat?

A. Joan Miller: The best way to greet a cat is to extend your index finger and let the cat first sniff it. Cats have scent glands on the sides of their mouths. If a cat rubs his face against your finger, it’s a sign that he likes you and is ready to meet you. Don’t stare directly into a cat’s eyes. Offer a couple soft blinks – it’s a way to say hello to a cat. At the show, we want people to get to know the various breeds. Go to the educational rings and look for the flags that read “Pet Me” at various cages. As long as the owners are there, they will take out their cats and give you the opportunity to pet them and ask questions about the breed.

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  1. Hi Arden,

    I’ve heard of dog agility shows but a cat agility show is news. I just might have to check into it.

    Catchy show title – Food and Water Bowl. Almost makes me wonder if the cats wear jerseys. 🙂

    San Diego is a nice town. I was there in the 70’s. Sounds like I have a good excuse to pay a visit once more for the next cat show.

    I like Joan’s tip about introducing yourself to a cat. The slowly extended hand (or finger as Joan suggests) really is the best way.

    Cats are like dogs in that if you go straight to petting them without letting them smell your hand first, they will either shy away or defend themselves. I learned the hard way several years ago.

    The soft blink or two really does help too.


    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

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