Prepare your Bengal for a cat show

Showing can be an exciting and important part of serious cat ownership which helps establish and develop the quality of a cat breed. Now that there is an official GCCF standard for the Bengal, more and more UK Bengals are going to be appearing on the show circuit, doubtless bringing the breed yet more praise and attention as these beautiful cats are seen by a wider audience.

However, showing can be an alien and high-pressure experience for cat and owner alike. Fortunately, if both parties are well prepared beforehand, everything can run a lot more smoothly. Here we consider the steps you should take to prepare for a stress-free show!

Bengal cat with a paw on a trophyWhich cat to show?

It is much easier to start by showing a kitten. Older cats, especially entire males or females that are used in a breeding program can find the whole process rather stressful. A working male can be upset at the close proximity of several queens. The same will apply to an entire female who may be coming into season – especially if placed next to a male cat.

Temperament is all important. To show a kitten or cat who is nervous can be disastrous and can end in tears. So here are some basic steps you can take to prepare your Bengal for his/her first outing to a show.

Planning for a calm cat!

Two or three weeks before your first show, put your kitten in a basket and take him/her for short rides in the car. Most cats only go into a cat basket to go to the vets or a cattery and associate the car and the basket with unpleasant journeys. By taking them for short car rides and then bringing them home to a nice bowl of fish, the car and basket will not hold any fear for them.

Also get them used to staying for long periods in a confined space. Once again place them in a large basket and put them in a busy part of the house or your office where lots of things are happening. I do this for an hour or two every couple of days. Again, when they get used to this they quite enjoy seeing new faces and listening to new sounds.

Bengal cats are very nosy and like lots of company, so try to introduce them to many different people and places and when they get to a show it will not be such a shock to be confined for a long period of time or to see so many different faces looking at them. Also if possible get your kitten used to being handled by different people and allowing them to hold the kitten and look through his coat and at the ears and the mouth.

The show rules

If you are a first-time cat owner and breeder, showing can be rather daunting. Different countries and different governing councils have different rules, and you should be aware of them beforehand. For example, in the UK the show pens must not be ‘dressed’.

All equipment, such as water bowls, blankets and litter trays must be white. Other countries have varying rules regarding this. Be sure the show organisers let you know what rules apply, to avoid any surprises on the day!

Bengal cat with rosette on chestFinal preparations

 A couple of days before the show spray your cat for fleas – even if you cannot find any – do it anyway. Do not take chances as one flea can lead to disqualification and can make the day end in tears!

 Gently clean the ears and check the skin for any scratches – again this can end in disaster since if the cat has any cuts or abrasions you can be asked to leave the show. Give your cat a brush to loosen any dead hair. Finally, do not forget to trim the nails.

 The night before the show a quick brush and check of your Bengal should suffice. But do get all you need ready for the show such as food, water, bowls, litter, blanket, etc. You do not want to rush in the morning.

 Lastly get a good night’s sleep and good luck!

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