What do you call it when your cat doesn't win at a cat show? .......politics.
Against my better judgment, I'm going to a 3-day cat show in Parsippany, New Jersey this weekend. The reason this is a bad idea is that I fully expect my cat to not get anything. I'm just hoping he'll pick up points for color and division. A final would be a bonus. Not because he's a bad example of the breed; Quill is pretty good as far as the Maine Coon standard goes, not great, but he does have his strong points. I can pick my cats apart and Quill is going through that awkward, ugly stage with his head. It's too long and narrow for me, his chin being another weak point. Both of Quill's parents have the strong, deep chin desirable in a Maine Coon, but Quill skipped that part. It's not quite as bad as mine (my chin is my weakest physical attribute. Thanks Dad), and it seems to be getting better, but that may be wishful thinking on my part. His ear set could be tighter, but at least he doesn't have his sire's "airplane ears" (that's an official cat description, as are "rabbit ears" and "alligator muzzle").
The best part about Quill physically is his boning (15 pounds at 10 months) and his glorious red-silver coat, especially the full, plumy tail. Another description we use for the red-silver color is "pink". Quill is mostly white with splotches of red. His unbathed tail is 8 inches wide. I just measured it. I could tell Quill's admirers that he weighs 25 pounds and be believed. People have a tendency to expect great poundage from Maine Coons, not taking into account that whole (un-neutered) cats don't become as large, show cats are young and still undeveloped and there's a lot of fur. Quill's coat, however, is difficult to maintain as the silver causes spontaneous matting. If you want a Maine Coon with a low-maintenance coat, get a red tabby. Fortunately, the young lad enjoys my picking through his knots and tangles with a comb and a seam ripper (a must-have tool for owners of long-haired cats). He purrs the entire time and even though he may change positions when I pull his hair, he keeps purring and remains voluntarily on my lap. Quill hasn't been to a show since November, so he may qualify for two baths to get that coat into shape.
So although I love my pretty red-silver boy, I'm a realist. Cat shows are a beauty competition, not an IQ or personality test (although it helps if your cat is both dumb and happy with the event). This will be a campaigner show, meaning the best cats in the country will be there. The competition among Maine Coons in The International Cat Association (TICA) in the northeast region is incredibly tough. There is usually a large number of our breed being shown and one cat is better than the next. So I can't knock it when my cat (even when I'm showing an exceptional one) doesn't get Best of Breed, much less 2nd or 3rd. Yes, it is disappointing when you need a title on your cat and make no headway in earning it because those other damn cats get in the way. It's a waste of money and a weekend to come away with nothing. That's when the excuse of the cat shows being too political comes into play. Maybe sometimes they are, but I'm an optimist (is it an oxymoron to be a realistic optimist?). If I weren't, I would have given up on showing my cats a long time ago. Plus, I've had enough successful shows that the carrot still dangles out there for me. Maybe it's a small, shriveled up carrot, but I still get hungry.
The real reason I'm going to the show is for the social aspect. It's a weekend getaway for me, a time to visit with great friends, admire beautiful cats, and talk cat to people who enjoy listening to cat talk. If you're in the area, come visit. The show starts Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday at the Hilton Parsippany. I'll be the one with the dragonfly show curtains and the big, pink fluffy cat.