Lyn Hudson's Tips & Advice for a Perfect Show Cat

Tips to be used at your discretion and noting relevant show rules and regulations.

The following tips can make or break your show preparation and although aimed at the longhair section primarily, some would equally apply to other breeds. To maximise the beauty of a coat for photographs for example, it can turn a lovely cat into a 'page 3' stunner with a little ingenuity and enhance the subject to be truly photogenic.

Basic Cat Genetics

Male kittens inherit their colouration from their mother.

Female kittens inherit their colouration from a combination of their mother and father's colour.

You can only breed a genetic red or cream female, if the father is a genetic red or cream, and the mother carries the red or cream factor.

The colours and patterns in a pedigree do not directly affect the colour of the kitten - it is only the parents that can influence this, except where the recessive gene is inherited eg, chocolate, lilac, colourpoint.

A dominant characteristic cannot skip a generation. If the characteristic is there, it will appear in each generation.

Cats of a dominant colour, will have a parent that is dominant also.

A dominant cat can only be produce if either or both parents are dominant.

Two recessive colour parents (Blue, Cream etc.), cannot produce a cat of dominant colour e.g. red, black, tortie.

Two colourpoint parents will only have colourpoint kittens.

Colourpoint kittens must have parents that are, or carry colourpoint.

To get a colourpoint kittens one parent must be, or carry colourpoint.

A tabby kitten must have at least one parent that is a tabby or shaded.

A shaded cat must have at least one parent that is shaded.

Shaded parents can have smoke kittens, but smoke parents cannot have shaded kittens.

Bi-colour kittens must have a least one Bi-colour parent.

Spotted tabby kittens must have at least one parent that is a spotted tabby.

Mackerel tabby kittens must have at least one parent that is a mackerel tabby.

Beauty tips

To alleviate greasy ears, take a little surgical spirit on cotton wool and clean the inside of the ear flap making sure that the cotton wool is not too saturated. Outside, rub chalk or talc into the ear fronds and leave to brush out later, taking care not to get powder into the ear. Repeat if not immediately successful.

Plucking off the stray hairs on ear tips only (NOT the fronds sticking out of the ears or the backs of the ears) for Persian cats can have the effect of rounding off the face. Equally taking the longer (usually lighter) hair from the jowls by holding it between the fingers of one hand and pinching it with the fingers of the other hand and tweaking, will all help to give the appearance of a rounded skull rather than elongating the face.

Taking a little bit of hair in the same manner from the tip of a tail will also appear to foreshorten a long tail and give the illusion of bushing it out slightly.

Tweaking out unwanted hairs (especially in bi-colour coats) maximises the colour you do want and minimises the colour you donít want, which can greatly enhance its appearance e.g. white hairs in a black patch or too much cream in a blue-cream coat. Even self colour cats such as blues can benefit from losing the odd stray white/dark hairs which are all too often present.

For staining on a coat that wonít come out with a good bath, try plucking a few of the hairs out slightly to diffuse the staining. Also using talc every day on the paws or bib just after they have eaten will stop the greasy stains from marking them in the first place.

For greasy staining such as stud tail, chalk or talc heavily and leave the talc in the coat until a little later to absorb the grease and then brush out. I have heard of breeders using a little dish washing liquid to loosen the grease prior to bathing, BUT this MUST be thoroughly rinsed out without leaving a trace in the coat.

For stained eye gutters, try a mild diluted wash of boric acid powder (not granules) using one teaspoon of powder to one pint of water and then with a cotton bud brushing a little neat powder into the gutters taking care not to get it into the eye. This will take out a lot of staining if used regularly. Another kind alternative is to pat a small amount of cornflour or baking powder into the gutters.

For hair that is lank or lying too flat, try using magnesium chalk which will separate the hairs making them less likely to clump together. Be careful not to use an excessive amount as it could cause a looseness in the litter tray and coarseness to the coat!

For the coat that has a tendency to curl, try using a coat gloss and blow-drying it straight or rubbing a little feline conditioner into the ends of the coat after shampooing and rinsing out before drying. Never leave the coat damp as that will encourage it to curl.

If necessary for a quick remedy for a greasy coat, especially if there is no time to bath the cat say before a photo shoot, try using a good dry shampoo for humans.

Drying tips

If you know that you cat will freak out with a bath or if it gets stressed during travel, try giving it a little diluted Valerian tincture about Ĺ an hour before bathing/transportation. You could also try using lavender oil either on a favourite blanket or in a safe oil burner prior to bathing/travel, or a herbal remedy skullcap and valerian tablets, one a day for a couple of days before and one or two tablets half an hour before the event.

Wrap the cat securely in a large fluffy towel and dry half the cat at a time if the cat is skittish with the noise of the dryer. Alternatively, if the cat will not tolerate being handled at all for drying, place the cat onto a folded towel in an open mesh cage and preferably using a nozzle, stand the dryer a little distance away and set on a low speed to get the cat used to it. Continue to check both cat and dryer regularly, making sure that neither overheats and turning the cat or dryer to get at all the coat perfectly dry. A stand is essential for a dryer as it leaves both hands free to control and brush the cat whilst drying, try using one that can be angled into different positions, rather like an angle poise lamp.

Household and General tips

A quick method of ridding the house of litter tray odours is to sprinkle a little bicarbonate of soda into the litter tray, it really works!

Clean any smells/urine stains on carpet by first diluting area with clean warm water, blotting with a towel to soak up any excess then gently washing the area with a biological washing powder and water and finally clean water again, blotting in between with clean towels. When dry you can sprinkle a little baby talc into the area if you need it to smell fresher.

Give a quarter of a clove of fresh garlic or garlic capsules every day to repel fleas.

Oil of Evening Primrose capsules for cats will promote coat growth.

To help clear ear mite, take a pinch of boric acid powder on a spoon or the end of an orange stick and blow the powder gently into the catís ear, this is a tip that came via an American breeder of Siamese.

Digestive tips

For a tummy upset, try a couple of teaspoons of plain live yoghurt every day.

Cat wonít eat that? OK, try cooked rabbit, chicken or fish, no red meat or biscuits until the stomach settles down.

Mix a good pinch of cornflour with food to help coat the stomach (a tip from the dog fraternity).

Add a little plain boiled rice in with the catís food if the little darling refuses to eat anything but its favourite food.

And, or if all else fails Ė get a good probiotic powder to mix in with food or water.

Mating tips

Immediately before receiving the queen, give a final wash of the queenís quarters with a diluted mix of household bleach and water, not too strong of course, and allowing the area to dry, as some cats just love the smell of bleach and will accept the quarters quite happily.

A new catnip toy put into the quarters will tempt a reluctant queen into relaxing, or place a catmint plant in a small pot nearby.

Sprinkle a little dried catnip or catmint underneath the bedding that the queen will use.

Leaving a light on will encourage the queen to call, a tip given to me many years ago by a respected veterinary surgeon.

NO flea treatments to be administered immediately prior to mating which could put off both queen and stud and could be harmful if ingested.

Hope you have enjoyed reading these and can utilise some of them, but please do bear in mind that you will have to adhere to certain regulations when entering cat shows.

New Item

For dirty eyes and stained faces use 1 cap of Optrex in a cup of boiled water with 2 drops of Johnsons Baby Shampoo and a teaspoon of boric acid.

Best wishes