How does one become a cat judge?

Judges at cat shows have anywhere from 7 to 10 years experience as breeders. They have studied the standard for perfection for each breed, which varies widely. For instance, 50 percent of the potential points for an Ocicat are awarded for the quality of the cats coat, while only 10 points go to a Persian for a coat. Fifty-five points, however, can be awarded for the conformation of a Persian’s head.

In addition to understanding the fine points of each breed, and the rules and regulations of the organization governing the show, judges must also have an understanding of how to work with exhibitors. People who show cats have a tremendous personal and emotional investment in their animals, and at times cat shows can make for high drama, with the judge’s decision being largely responsible for any extreme reactions on the part of the humans involved.

In terms of procedure, judges are required to take qualifying courses sanctioned by the body governing the cat show. They must be a member of the organization, of the stipulated age (generally more than 21 years), and have completed a required number of stewarding assignments. The latter gives the individual experience in the ring without actually being responsible for the awarding of points and ribbons.

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