Taking a Maine Coon neuter to his first show since late 2018 -- advice?

Maurey

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Hey all! I'm taking my boy, Chips, to a show being held this weekend in honour of his breeder, who recently passed away -- he was her favourite cat, and she had always wanted to represent her cattery as a neuter, but she never got the chance due to Covid restrictions. He's a retired stud, and experienced in shows, as a champion with many Best in Breed and Best in Show nominations and awards under his belt. He used to thrive in the environment, but it's been a while since he's been at one.

While I've been to some cat shows casually here and there, I imagine it's a different rodeo when you're actually showing a cat. While I've gotten some good advice from an acquaintance who's also going to the show (she'll be there to help me, and is bringing an extra tent for him, so I don't have to buy one before I'm certain this isn't a one-off show visit for us), she's busy and I was able to question her on only so much before she had to run. Apologies if any of these questions come off as particularly silly. I'm an anxious person by nature, so over-preparing helps me keep calm.

For context -- the show is WCF run.

My general questions/concerns:
1) What's expected of you as a non-breeder showing a cat, in terms of conduct and what you're essentially 'meant' to do at a show. I've personally only really met with breeders at shows, so I'm unsure how or if the experience would differ.
2) Is there an expected dress code as a person showing an animal? Or are the breeders primarily dressed up for PR purposes? I'm happy to dress up, given that it's an occasion, ofc, just want to be sure!
3) The big one, to be honest! Chip used to absolutely thrive at cat shows -- he adored being there, the attention, the atmosphere. He was the most relaxed and confident boy. That said, it's been a few years since his last proper show, and he's been neutered since, not to mention the still somewhat-recent loss of his human. He's settled in really well with me and Jumanji both, I believe, but he's never been to a show without her -- is him freaking out a valid concern? Is there anything I can do to make the experience as comfortable for him as possible? If he doesn't enjoy shows anymore, we'll never go again, it's just this one time that's important for closure. If he does, we'll see, I'll definitely make the effort a few times a year, given that showing cats is fairly expensive and time consuming.
4) What should I be bringing with me? Based on what my acquaintance mentioned, since she'll be brining a spare tent for me, I'll need to bring a litter box, poo bags, shampoo wipes, paper towels, and a water bowl. She also recommended bringing a favourite wand toy. He'll be getting a full groom on Friday night, the day before the show starts, so there should be minimal fuss getting his coat in tip-top shape for the ring. Is there anything else you'd recommend to take with? She also mentioned that it's best not to feed him before I leave, and just give him a larger portion when I get back -- is this advisable? I feel kinda iffy about him going most of the day without food. I do feed raw, though, so unsure if taking his food with me is viable, either.
4) More of a curiosity, than anything. While Chip has a really stunning tail, pants, and belly all year round, he's a weirdo (whom his daughter takes after) that grows his nice thick coat with the signature MC ruff in the summer, so he's currently in his off season coat. Given his conformation is otherwise very good, does he stand a chance at a good showing, despite that?

For the curious, here are some photos of the gorgeous boy at his 2018 shows where he was around a year to year an a half old(was born June 2017)

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And a shot of him on a couch from July last year, in his first full coat as a neuter. He's currently at around 8kg (17.5lbs) of pure muscle, though an exact weight will have to wait till his checkup next month :>
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lutece

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I show cats in the US. I have visited FIFe and GCCF shows when traveling, but never visited a WCF show, so take my advice with that in mind... things may be a bit different.

I assume that at your show, the cats will be kept in a benching area during the day, and then brought to a judging ring when the judge is ready to judge their class? (There is another style of judging called "bay judging" where the judges come to the benching area to judge the cats, but this is much less common.)

1) What's expected of you as a non-breeder showing a cat, in terms of conduct and what you're essentially 'meant' to do at a show?
Make sure your cat is clean and groomed, clean up after your cat when he poops, and take his poop to a garbage can that isn't close to any exhibitors. (With so many cats in a show hall, it can get stinky if poop isn't tidied up right away!) Very important, make sure you pay attention to what is going on, so that you can get your cat to where he needs to be judged without delaying the show.

Introduce yourself to people around you, and tell them you are a new exhibitor. You will find that some exhibitors are very friendly and chatty and helpful, others won't want to chat with you so much. Be a good sport, and cheer for other people who win things. Be welcoming to spectators at the show and answer questions they might have about your cat and your breed.

2) Is there an expected dress code as a person showing an animal?
The usual way of dressing for a show can vary a bit from place to place, but basically, put some clothes on? :lol:
Some exhibitors dress extremely casually, and others dress up. Wear what makes you feel comfortable.

3) Is him freaking out a valid concern? Is there anything I can do to make the experience as comfortable for him as possible?
It's a valid concern, but if he has show experience and enjoyed the attention in the past, he'll probably be fine! Try not to worry, since if you are very nervous, it might make him feel a it more anxious (your behavior tells him if there are things he needs to worry about). Bring familiar things to the show that smell like home (like a blanket or cat bed), especially since he'll be using your friend's tent. If he likes any treats, bring his favorite treats.

4) What should I be bringing with me?
I agree with your friend's suggestions (litter box, poo bags, shampoo wipes, paper towels, water bowl, wand toys). As far as food is concerned, I usually don't feed cats breakfast before leaving to drive to the show, but I do feed them in the morning after arriving at the show. How far away is the show? How long are the show hours? If the show hours are very short, you could skip his meal, but if the show goes all day, I would personally feed him so he doesn't get hungry and grumpy. I don't feed raw, but I see lots of other breeders feeding raw at shows. You could put his meal in a small cooler to keep it fresh on your way to the show, or bring a frozen meal that can thaw while you are on your way. Paper plates can make it easy to feed your cat and then simply toss the plate.

You'll also want to bring whatever grooming tools you would usually use. Even though he is getting a thorough groom (presumably a bath, claws clipped, ears cleaned) on Friday, you will want to comb out his coat thoroughly after you arrive at the show in the morning. Just before he is judged, you will want to give him another touch-up combing so that his coat isn't clumpy anywhere, and look him over to make sure that he is sparkling clean everywhere (checking his rear end, his feet, his eyes and nose). If you have multiple rings / judges, do a touch-up before each ring. Grooming makes a big difference in how a cat is perceived by the judges, especially for a longhaired cat.

5) He's currently in his off season coat. Given his conformation is otherwise very good, does he stand a chance at a good showing, despite that?
I can't tell you what sort of competition he will face, but if he's groomed well, judges understand that longhaired cats don't always have a full coat. Just be sure that he is sparkling clean and his coat is not clumpy.
 
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Maurey

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I assume that at your show, the cats will be kept in a benching area during the day, and then brought to a judging ring when the judge is ready to judge their class?
Yes, that's the way things are run here, to my knowledge! Never seen a WCF show in my area do it another way.

Make sure your cat is clean and groomed, clean up after your cat when he poops, and take his poop to a garbage can that isn't close to any exhibitors. (With so many cats in a show hall, it can get stinky if poop isn't tidied up right away!) Very important, make sure you pay attention to what is going on, so that you can get your cat to where he needs to be judged without delaying the show.

Introduce yourself to people around you, and tell them you are a new exhibitor. You will find that some exhibitors are very friendly and chatty and helpful, others won't want to chat with you so much. Be a good sport, and cheer for other people who win things. Be welcoming to spectators at the show and answer questions they might have about your cat and your breed.
That all makes sense, thank you! Loads of people I know through the breeder will be there, so I feel fairly confident in finding people able/willing to help out and socialise :>

Wear what makes you feel comfortable.
Awesome! I've seen some showing extremely large Maine Coon in heels and essentially a cocktail dress, which I, to this day, do not understand. My ankles can't handle heels at the best of times!

Bring familiar things to the show that smell like home (like a blanket or cat bed), especially since he'll be using your friend's tent. If he likes any treats, bring his favorite treats.
I'll be sure to do that, thank you!

How far away is the show? How long are the show hours?
The show is fairly close by, 30-45 min depending on traffic, so could definitely be worse! In terms of hours, I was basically told to show up at 9am, and we would be done as soon as the judges are done, basically. Generally that depends on how on-time everyone is and how many cats were registered, I guess. She said could be as early as 1 or 2 pm, or as late as 6pm so... Really not sure what to take away from that, or the standards of WCF showing. I don't know. Both the pamphlet and registration only mentions the date and place so 🤷‍♀️ It's the big reason I'm so antsy about the idea of not feeding him beforehand or during.

You'll also want to bring whatever grooming tools you would usually use. Even though he is getting a thorough groom (presumably a bath, claws clipped, ears cleaned) on Friday, you will want to comb out his coat thoroughly after you arrive at the show in the morning. Just before he is judged, you will want to give him another touch-up combing so that his coat isn't clumpy anywhere, and look him over to make sure that he is sparkling clean everywhere (checking his rear end, his feet, his eyes and nose). If you have multiple rings / judges, do a touch-up before each ring. Grooming makes a big difference in how a cat is perceived by the judges, especially for a longhaired cat.
He'll be getting a full show groom and pamper by Jum's and his usual groomer, yes! Would all of his grooming supplies be necessary if his groomer will be there to give him a proper touchup before his first ring? Or would I be fine with some wipes, detangling spray, and a comb to touch up in between? I'm happy to bring everything, of course -- being overprepared is way better than under!

I can't tell you what sort of competition he will face, but if he's groomed well, judges understand that longhaired cats don't always have a full coat. Just be sure that he is sparkling clean and his coat is not clumpy.
Understood, thank you!

I really appreciate all the info and I'm feeling way more prepared for this weekend. Thank you for taking the time!
 

lutece

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He'll be getting a full show groom and pamper by Jum's and his usual groomer, yes! Would all of his grooming supplies be necessary if his groomer will be there to give him a proper touchup before his first ring? Or would I be fine with some wipes, detangling spray, and a comb to touch up in between? I'm happy to bring everything, of course -- being overprepared is way better than under!
I would suggest that you bring all his grooming supplies, since you never know when you might have a grooming emergency!
 
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Maurey

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Little update! Was a small, but pleasant show, though sadly not going back today because I woke up feeling under the weather after the long day I had yesterday.

Chippy was very chill and relaxed the entire time. He enjoyed the attention, and got some Zs in while he was relaxing in the enclosure. For some reason he was one of only 3 Maine Coons that were actually groomed properly (or at all), and Chip was the oldest cat there. He won best of breed (out of 12 cats), as well as best neuter (there were only around 4 of them, though). I think it was the perfect way for me to experience showing (fun but exhausting, also had a random person come in to rant at us about how unhealthy pedigrees are 🤦🏽 Can’t imagine larger scale shows where entry to look at the cats isn’t free would have the same issue), and for Chip to remember what it’s like. I do feel he enjoyed it, probably more than I did, so might be worth going to another show in future, we’ll see. I’ll try to remember to share photos of the judging once I have them.
 
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lutece

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Glad to hear your show went well -- best of breed is a nice win indeed! Yes, do post photos when you can :)
 
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