Cats compete for awards at weekend show

Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 1:30 a.m.
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Owner Linnea Danielsen says that Hefner, who'll take part in the North Central Florida Cat Club show this weekend, has earned 147 points of 200 needed to be a grand champion of the American Shorthair Cat Fanciers Association.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun


FYI: Cat show

  • What: More than 200 felines are entered in the North Central Florida Cat Club's 16th annual show.
  • When: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Where: Alachua County Fairgrounds, 2900 NE 39th Ave.
  • Tickets: $5 adults ($1 off coupon available at vet offices), $3 for ages 5-13 and seniors.

  • Hefner will be meeting some important people this weekend, so he wants to make a good impression. He'll have a shampoo bath and have his nails done - or in this case, his claws.
    Hefner is an American Shorthair owned by Linnea Danielsen of Lochloosa. This weekend he'll be competing at the 16th annual cat show put on by the North Central Florida Cat Club.
    The show is Saturday and Sunday at the Alachua County Fairgrounds and organizers expect more than 200 cats to compete at the event, which is sanctioned by Cat Fanciers of America.
    For Danielsen, who will show Hefner along with another of her cats, the goal is to earn more points toward Hefner's grand championship title.
    To be a grand champion, Hefner, who's about 18 months old, must earn 200 points. He's well on his way, having earned 147 points at other shows. He became a champion at only 8 months old, at his first show.
    The family tree of the American Shorthair breed has its roots in the nation's early history, said Danielsen.
    "They were one of two North American breeds that came off the streets, basically," she said. "The Maine Coon and American Shorthair probably in the beginning came off of ships from England.
    "They were brought on the ships to help keep rats and mice out of the grains. Eventually, they bred and became very common."
    It was around 1950 that cat fanciers decided they liked the look of the cat that would eventually be called the American Shorthair and decided to make it into a breed, Danielsen said.
    "(People said) this is the cat, this is what we want this cat to look like," said Danielsen, who's quite an expert on cats.
    While Danielsen has been breeding cats for a decade, her mother has bred cats since the 1950s, so her exposure to felines is considerable.
    Hefner is a pedigreed cat, which means his lineage can be traced, and he has documents proving he is pure American Shorthair.
    In competition, American Shorthairs are judged on a 100-point standard, Danielsen said. Judges award points for factors such as eye shape, coat pattern and color, structure of body and ear size.
    How Hefner fares against other cats at this weekend's show determines what awards he earns and how many points he earns toward grand championship status.
    Not all cats are cut out for competition, explained Danielsen. Getting a cat accustomed to being around other felines and handled by judges should begin when it is a kitten. The kitten class in competitions is for felines between 4 months and 8 months old.
    "They get used to cats coming and going. They learn what's going to be expected of them," Danielsen said. "Sometimes they don't like it and get aggressive and hiss and want to bite. Those cats generally don't become show cats."
    Hefner is well-adjusted to life as a competitor, Danielsen said.
    "He's a sweetheart. He's very gentle for an intact (non-neutered) male," she said.
    Cats that have been spayed or neutered are shown separately in competition from those that have not.
    In addition to the time Hefner spends competing, Danielsen said he is one of those she uses to breed Scottish Fold cats.
    That breed is aptly named because its ears fold down. Those cats are bred with one Scottish Fold and either an American Shorthair or a British Shorthair.
    Danielsen said once Hefner earns grand champion status he will remain with her for Scottish Fold breeding for a few years. After that she'll have him neutered and then find him a good home.
    For those who attend the show this weekend, show co-manager Helen Schultz, of Williston, said there will be lots going on and cats from all over the nation will be competing.
    Upon first entering the show area, people will see many tables of vendors hawking just about every product available for cats, Schultz said.
    Past the vendor area there are rows and rows of exhibition cages and beyond that are the eight judging rings, where the judges rate the cats, she said.
    She said those who visit the show will not only see pedigreed animals that are the result of generations of breeding, but household pets, as well.
    The competition for household pets is open to any cat that has not been declawed and does not meet the requirements to compete alongside pedigreed felines. About 20 pets competed in the household pets category last year.
    "People who have a household pet have a lot of fun doing our show," she explained. "There's something special about putting Miss Fluffy in the ring and having people look her over."
    Schultz, who is entering a couple of her cats in the show, said that for those who have never been to a cat show before, it's an opportunity to see much of the best of the cat world.
    The show is also a good opportunity for cat owners to get any questions they might have about their animals answered by the experts, she said.
    "It's different from a dog show, because they don't do tricks and they don't walk on a leash. But you can see a lot of very beautiful cats," she said. "Breeders are only going to take their very best to the show."

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