Aby-a-Day – 15 Juni: Parallel Judging (Cat Show Saturday)

Amongst all the other things that happened at last weekend’s cat show, I mentioned that there was a trainee judge watching the Abyssinian judging, shadowing a Group 4 judge. But later, after the Singapuras and the Selkirk Rex had been judged, Stellan called me to bring Izaak over to the Group 3 “Parallel judging.”


I’d never heard of that before, much less seen it. Stellan said it’s fairly rare. But it’s actually pretty cool, and I don’t think either CFA or TICA have a thing like this.


Basically, you’re all called up to a mock ring. Stewards take the cats up to the student judge, who judges each cat and writes down notes on every one, the same as the real judge does. She also chooses her Bests in Variety and the cats she would Nominate if she were the judge.


Later on, they compare her notes and decisions to the actual judge’s notes and see how she did in comparison. We exhibitors don’t get to see the notes, nor do we ever know how our cats placed…but it was interesting to watch.


Zak thought it was a lot of fun! Maybe even more fun than the actual judging, because he got to do it and Lorelai didn’t!

Aby-a-Day – 25 Februari: In memory of Walter Hutzler (Hipstamatic Monday)

Sad news…CFA judge Walter Hutzler has passed away. He was a great cat judge and person. I didn’t know him well, but he lived in Region 1 and I was lucky to have seen him judge and have Jacoby judged by him a few times.


The thing I remember about Walter is his flamboyant style of dressing. He also often wore scarves, which I thought was cool, and a nice change from the usual ties CFA judges wear.


He was even featured in the 2006 PBS documentary Standard of Perfection: Show Cats. It’s always fun to see judges you know on TV shows.


Walter was a really fun judge to watch.


He really interacted with the cats as he judged them.


Since it was Monday, I remembered I had taken some Hipstamatic photos of Walter judging Jake at a show in Groton, CT in October 2011 (the same weekend I met Molly and Mosey and Jake Gbecame a Grand).


My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today. Sleep well in Tuonela, Walter.

Aby-a-Day – 8 October: The final countdown (Movie Monday)

Izaak’s judge on Sunday was Daria Lukasik, from Poland. When judges in FIFe get cats’ information, they only know the age, sex and colour. Nothing more.



Despite knowing nothing else about Zak, Judge Daria loved him. It’s almost like she knew he came from Poland, without actually knowing it.


Like, threatened to take him home with her in her bag. More than once.


In FIFe, judges write up a sheet on each cat with their assessments. It’s actually pretty great, because you get a copy of it for your show book, so you have in writing what each judge though of your cat.


Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words.


Zak helped while Daria wrote up her observations on him. She also put heart stickers on his sheet, which she said he helped select.


Because Singapuras are at the end of the Category 3 judging, instead of going back to our benching cage while waiting for the NOM selection, we just sat nearby and waited. This is where Zak and Lorelai are better at FIFe shows than Jacoby is…Jake just doesn’t do sitting around waiting well.


In the end, Zak was up for the NOM against a white Kurilian Bobtail and a Bengal.


(Click to play video) It was very close…but in the end the Bengal won the NOM.

Aby-a-Day – 8 July: “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Cat Show Cinema Sunday)

Last Saturday, as I posted, Lorelai made her first show appearance.


What was interesting, though, was that her half brother Lord was being judged at the same time on the judging table next to ours. The ruddies and the blues were judged separately on Saturday, and together on Sunday.



It was fun to watch him be judged while Rory was being judged.






Rory is a cat show natural! She was fearless, playful, and utterly charming.


The judge, Marie Westerlund, actually breeds Abys (her cattery name is S*Rackarkattens) and she fell in love with Rory.





In FIFe, the owner displays the cat to the judge, and the judge talks to the owner and explains what she’s looking for and how the cat meets the standard. It’s a bit different from CFA, where of course the judges know who the owners are, but there’s a sort of invisible wall of tacit anonymity. A show judge is not supposed to see or even know what cat is entered in the show. After the cat is judged, it’s okay to hang out with the judge. Also, in CFA, judges dress up. Men wear ties, and women wear nice suits and dresses. In FIFe, the judges seem to wear whatever they want. Men wearing jeans and a polo shirt is not uncommon.






Marie seemed to examine Rory for ages



Meanwhile, Rory’s half-brother was still on his judging table.




Then something odd happened. Rory’s judge went over to talk to Lord’s judge! I hadn’t ever seen that happen before. Not sure what they were talking about, but it was cool to see them close together!









As you can see, Rory is a natural star. And you can see how smitten Marie was by her.

I also shot a movie of her being judged. As I said, she was on the table a really long time!

Aby-a-Day – September 4: Hands free

It’s always so delightful when we’re at a cat show and a judge really appreciates Jacoby’s strengths.


Jake’s not a typical Aby on the judge’s table. He doesn’t play with toys. He doesn’t scratch the sisal post. He doesn’t act like a kitten.


No, Jake just stands there on the table, majestically proud, surveying the audience.


Pam Bassett, a judge from Louisana, was incredibly impressed by Jake’s show demeanour.


She was so impressed that she did something you will only rarely see a judge do with an Abyssinian: she took her hands off him and stepped away.


Far away – out-of-the-frame away!


“Well, if she’s just going to leave, I might as well sit.”


And she’s back.


She really liked the way Jake was so calm and confident on the table. She gave him Second Best Cat in Premiership in her ring.


Her best cat was this sable Burmese girl, GP Panthat Just One More of Burmay.


You’ll notice that Pam did not take her hands off of her or walk away like she did with Jake!

Aby-a-Day – April 7: The great escape attempt

At the show in Stamford, Jacoby showed how smart he’s getting. stamford-jakeescapeE_4073

He’s already figured out how to bust through zippers, to the point of him being able to even break through the clips we have to keep the zippers closed. I’m thinking I’ll need to use tiny padlocks now!


But in his show cage in Kenny Currle’s ring, Jake decided he did not want to be in the cage.



I think it was the open setting and the fact that he’d escaped once and ran up the stairs looking for the elevators.


The scary thing is, I think he’s starting to figure out how the show cages open.



After getting tired of just yelling his way out of the cage…


…he sat and thought about it a moment.


Then he started attacking the bottom of the door.


What worried me was that he seemed to be making some headway…literally! I shudder to think what he could accomplish with a rock hammer, a poster of Sparkle and a little time.


He also tried brute strength, rolling into the door.


It didn’t work…


…but that didn’t stop him from trying it again.


This approach was the most accurate. You have to sort of push the door over to release the hooks. Jake was definitely on the right track with this one.





Just check out the grabby Aby hands action!


A quick check to make sure no one is coming to stop him…


…and then right back to it!



I was starting to worry that he’d skin his nose on the wire bars of the cage. Fortunately, he didn’t.


When he was finally let out of the cage for his turn on the judge’s table, Jake was perfectly behaved.


He didn’t try to escape at all.




That escape attempt he saved for Lois Jensen’s ring!

Aby-a-Day – March 28: Pole Dancing

When you go to a cat show, you’ll notice that each judging table has a scratching post on it. This is so the cats with stretch up and have a scratch so the judges can see the cats’ musculature and see their bodies move in order to better assess their conformation to the breed standard.


Most cats – and especially most Abyssinians – love to show off and scratch the post. This is Ataraxia Coatue – a relative of Cousin Toki!


Some Abys, like Cousin Taz’s nephew, Instincts Fire, take scratching the post to a whole new level.



Most cats just scratch the post. They don’t usually try to climb it.


Jacoby, however, never “pole dances.” He’d rather stand on the judge’s table and survey the audience.


Which is why, on Saturday in Gene Darrah’s ring, it was so funny to see Jake go up the scratching post like a regular Aby! Meg and I couldn’t believe it.


Apparently, neither could Jake. Look at his face! He seems to be saying, “What am I doing? I never do this!”


Evidently, Taz has picked up some bad habits from his cousin Jake.


As hard as Gene Darrah tried, Taz would NOT scratch the post.


But he did pose nicely. I think maybe they’re spending too much time together!

Cat Show Part Two: At the Show

We got to the show a bit before 8am. Perfect timing, really, since judging began at 8:30 sharp. I set up Gun-Hee’s cage and we went to the first two rings almost immediately. It was the fastest show I’ve ever been to; the hotel needed to set up for a reunion that same evening, so we had to be out of there by the advertised closing time, 3:30pm.

I like one-day shows. It’s nice not to have to spend the entire weekend at a show, nice to not have to go to a hotel with Gun-Hee and all his stuff, and I think it’s better for him, too; Gun-Hee’s typically done better on the first day than on the second day of the two-day shows he’s been in.

I also hadn’t done a show by myself since college. I made friends with a lovely woman named Cheryl who had three HHPs entered (Chase, Little Man, and Autumn). She was also at the show by herself, and she got quite a workout running to and from the rings with one cat at a time!

Gun-Hee did well. Six rings, five Winners Ribbons. There were two other Ruddys and one Red (one Ruddy was absent); and Gun-Hee took Second Best of Colour three times. All of the Abys in Premiership seemed a little edgy; two of them were very “hissy” and that made Gun-Hee hiss back at them.

The judges ignored him, which is good.

This was one of the judges who gave him the Second Best of Colour

Before being judged in one ring.

This judge called him “handsome.”

After judging: a Best in Class and a Winners Ribbon!

I didn’t get photos of all his rings. Only managed four out of the six. They were going fast!

Not a bad day, all in all. Waiting to be judged in his last ring, Gun-Hee seems pleased with himself.

One thing happened at the show, though, that I’m still a little shaken and confused about. One judge in this show disqualified Gun-Hee in his ring because he said Gun-Hee had a grey undercoat. I had to ask him why he’d disqualified Gun-Hee and that was his reason…which seemed strange to me since he’d gotten Best of Colour, Best and Second Best of Breed, and a Best Kitten in his previous shows…which, granted, could be because he was a kitten and hadn’t developed his full colour yet…but the judge in the previous ring had just given him Second Best of Colour (as did the next two)!

I asked the women at the Clerking Desk about it, and one told me that that judge was an Aby breeder and that sometimes judges who know the breed tend to judge them more strictly. The other clerk, it turned out, is in training to become a judge; she looked at Gun-Hee and said, basically that she couldn’t really tell. The first clerk opined that to her, it should have been a deduction of points rather than a disqualification.

The told me to talk to my breeder (which, of course I will – she’ll be a stunned as I was), and also explained that if three different judges disqualify him in their rings, he’ll be unable to show in CFA. So now Gun-Hee kind of has one strike.

And being disqualified, he only got five Winners Ribbons rather than the six he needs to become a Premier (the neutered version of a Champion). Which is disappointing, but not really that bad; I mean, you’re not supposed to get all six Winners Ribbons in one show.

Still…disqualified. It makes me feel like some sort of an impostor. And he was so good this show, too. His coat was gleaming and the residual runny eyes and sniffles he’s had in the past were gone (hurrah, L-Lysine). I’d managed his chin acne, too. He was really in top condition…it took me down a peg, I have to say.

Ah well. He was wonderful, and he did great against cats who’ve already become Premiers and Grand Premiers. There’s always the next show.

Edit: Very interesting round table discussion between 5 CFA judges about what they look for in a show Abyssinian.