Buying A Show Cat?
By Hugh A. Price
Reprinted from The Bengal Bulletin, Winter 1999
Welcome to the increasing number of new Bengal exhibitors appearing in the show halls. Unfortunately, several express disappointment that their cats are not doing as well as they expected and, of course, are quite dissatisfied that the "top quality" kitten they paid big bucks for is not as good as they were led to believe when it was purchased. Hopefully, the following information will be useful for anyone considering the purchase of a "Show Quality Cat".
A "show quality" Bengal is one which meets or exceeds the published standard. Because of different looks of Bengals from different lines of ALC, each cat meeting the published "Standard" should be judged on its overall wild appearance -- how the total cat is put together -- and its temperament. Since I began showing Bengals in 1994, most shows have grown in the number of Bengal entries and usually include several high quality entries. The Standard provides guidance to judges concerning preferred patterns and contrast. When one trait (regardless of degree of difficulty in obtaining) overrides another, it is the Judge's call in determining which cat he/she considers the best/better representative of the breed. While we would like to see all clear-coated specimens without any rib-bars, the published standard intentionally neither specifically requires nor penalizes these things. Given competitors with similar appearance/temperament, the Standard gives judges appropriate latitude to make their evaluations.
We all tend to get excited with our babies and envision great success shortly after they arrive. Whether or not a kitten has show potential should not be determined until it is eight to twelve weeks old -- even then, there is no assurance it will continue to develop as expected. However, people often insist on "knowing" too early in a kitten's growth. ("Pet" kittens without faults sometimes surprise their breeders as they mature!) Since wins are directly related to the instant competition at any show, no cat can be guaranteed to win at shows. The best guarantee for a show quality kitten is to offer a price adjustment if the cat does not meet the conformation and color/pattern standard when it is eight months old. A "show" kitten should not leave any cattery without good temperament. If due to changed environmental or handling influences the kitten develops behavioral problems (including grumpy temperament), the new owner will need to learn corrective actions to overcome them. The breeder should assist the owner with advice and referrals for getting such help.
Buyers seeking a show quality cat would do well to get a cat from a Breeder who has a proven success record in the show hall. Breeders who do not show their cats will not be able to offer much empirical advice about showing cats and the advancements made in the Bengals being shown. Kittens with faults, e.g., tail kink, unacceptably long hair, or locket, should not be considered as show quality and the buyer wanting a show cat should not buy the kitten. I would be wary of a Breeder who would sell such a kitten as either show or breeder quality. Likewise, do not expect a kitten with a grumpy or questionable attitude to do well in the show hall. The image of a poorly behaved cat in the show hall reflects unfavorably on both the breed and the Breeder. Buyers should be wary of a Breeder selling a poorly socialized or grumpy tempered cat as a breeder. If you are going to pay a premium price to acquire a top quality cat, do not settle for less. If the Breeder cannot provide what you want, go elsewhere -- there are a lot of responsible Breeders who can provide you with your "special" cat. After you take possession, you may never be able to resolve the problem that could have been avoided.
Do your homework and find out about the Breeder's reputation. Buyers should be extra picky when they buy a show quality cat and should always make an effort to visit the cattery before making a deposit. This will reduce the likelihood of becoming a disappointed buyer/new exhibitor/Bengal Breeder. Loss of contrast and/or glitter as some cats age is not uncommon. Buyers of show quality kittens should see parents whenever possible and check pedigrees for "track records" of judged acceptance (i.e.,titles) of parents.
Good luck in your search for your "Special Baby." See you in the Show Hall.
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