Cats at their most standard, humans at their least
If you could not locate a particular white, bespeckled, grey haired, woman of a certain age for most of the day last Saturday near Lawrenceberg Indiana and the surrounding tri-state area I think I know where she must have been. I can report with near certainty that she was among the roughly 150 or so of them who showed up at the Region 6 Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) cat show with me, 100 or so other spectators, about 86 purebred cats of all breeds, and around 10–15 plain old house cats.
Also, if you had any fear about the imminent collapse of the award ribbon industry take heart, they will be around for at least a little bit longer. Never in my life have I seen so many ribbons awarded for (what to me seemed like) so little. Those of you who complain about the “everybody wins” mentality supposedly being fostered on our young people in schools today could take some solace in the fact that at least it is not as bad as the cat show world. I need to clarify lest I totally offend the cat show people and my kind and generous host for the day my good friend kat (a pseudonym and yes the same friend from my recent coyote gulch ‘adventure’ this past summer. That tale is also available on Medium and is rollicking fun time of adventure and excitement plus near death and madness. This plug was brought to you by me. I love me, why shouldn’t you? Me. The greatest ever.) that a large chunk of the so called award ribbons are actually not award ribbons in the sense of being given out as actual awards but instead given out as an indicator of points given to a particular cat for some strange thing or other. If the idea of points being awarded to cats for looking the most like other cats, deemed to be the ideal cats, has you sweating with excitement then keep reading because you are in for a rare treat.
The scoring and judging systems are as Byzantine and unknowable as the most arcane biblical apocraphya and yet everyone but myself seemed to know exactly what was happening at any given moment.
The long and short of it is pretty simple I suppose (at least in a broad descriptive sort of sense), essentially all the pure-bred cats are judged against what is defined as the breed standard by different judges on a scoring system with a max of 100 points and then against each other in the particular group and breed and such. Winners receive such fabulous prizes as polite applause from the spectators, and nothing, and it only costs roughly 50 bucks per cat to enter. Clearly it’s a can’t lose proposition from a financial perspective, or so I snarkily thought. However, it turns out that winners also receive points, a highly complex and abstract concept I first mentioned above and will now proceed to attempt to explain for your edification. Think of them like bitcoin for the cat show world. It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to get them and nobody really understands them but they are extremely valuable in the real world. In contrast to bitcoin which is valuable in the real world for totally stupid (mostly unknown) reasons, cat show point value is well described and understood. Points allow one to get titles and win regional, national, and international awards. The more points, the more of these titles and awards. At this point you might be saying to yourself, so the fuck what? Who gives a shit? It turns out many, many people do give said shit, and many of these people are willing to spend serious money to buy highly regarded and titled show cats to show to other people who are willing to spend serious money buying cats to show to other people, etc. etc. until the circle of life is complete.
If it all seems sort of seedy and sad, and I realize it sounds that way from my terrible description of it, it really is not. The reason is that the vast majority of the people I mentioned in my cat show circle of life are genuine cat lovers who truly believe the particular breed or breeds that they spend their time and money on are worth all the effort they put into buying, raising, showing, and selling them. I had the opportunity to meet and talk to a number of these crazy people during my time at the show and I can report with all sincerity that they were some of the most down to earth, nicest, easy to get along with set of people I have ever encountered. As you might perhaps expect they were also very white, so very white. If you ever want a great retirement gig though cat show judge is the way to go. They are flown all over the country, fed and lodged, and treated like royalty all for the very difficult and demanding job of playing with cats all day a few times a month. Not a dime comes out of their own pockets for all of this. Pretty sweet gig. Sign me up.