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The small print

This page explains how a TICA show works, as it is very different from a GCCF or FIFe Show. There looks like there's a lot to take in here but in reality once you've completed a couple of shows you'll wonder why you thought it sounded so difficult.  And there will always be people around to help you out - there's a friendly atmosphere at the shows and we do live up to TICA's motto of "for fabulous felines, fun and friendships" !

The topics covered on this page are:

Entering Shows

  • You do not have to register a cat, kitten, alter (neuter) or HHP (Household Pet)  in TICA to enter a TICA show (unless it is a New Trait or a New Breed).  If you want to claim titles in TICA your cat needs to be registered with TICA.
  • If you want to enter a TICA show, first consult the club's website or contact the entry clerk for a flyer and entry form.
  • The flyer gives all the details about the show - when, where, who is judging and how many rings in the show.  It should also say if the show is vetted or non-vetted, give details of the show hotel, the cost of entering, penning options, where to send your entry and the closing date for entries.
  • Some clubs will also offer on-line entry on their web-site and may also accept payment by PayPal as well as cheques or postal orders.
  • Please note that, under TICA Rules, entry fees are not refundable
  • The entry form (whether paper or on-line) includes the usual information required - exhibit name, breed, colour, registration number, date of birth and sex; plus the exhibitor's own details.  Watch how dates are requested, as some may use American format (mm/dd/yy).
  • Unlike GCCF shows, there is no need to specify any classes, as each exhibit will be judged in all the relevant rings.
  • All regular entries should receive a confirmation - a copy of what will appear in the show catalogue - so this must be checked carefully and any errors should be notified to the entry clerk as soon as possible.
  • Neutered cats (known as Alters in TICA) will be described as neuter (male) or spay (female), and entire cats as male or female. Check carefully that age, sex. breed and colour have been described properly as these impact upon judging.
  • Confirmations may be sent by email or may be posted to the exhibitor, and should normally be within 10 days of receiving your entry
  • Two exhibits can share a double pen and you can ask the entry clerk to bench you near your friends.  This isn't always possible but Entry Clerks will try to meet your wishes.

On Arrival at the Show

  • On arrival at the show venue, someone will check you in at the arrivals table, and hand you your show paperwork and catalogue.
  • Your cats may then need to be vetted-in.  The vet will check that each cat is not showing signs of mites, fleas, fungal infection, or any other illness. The vet has the final say on whether a cat is admitted to the show hall.
  • Some shows may allow vetting-in at the show hotel on the previous evening.  The show flyer will tell you if this option is available.
  • You will need to produce a current vaccination certificate (showing vaccinations for cat flu and feline enteritis) for each of the cats with you. Each club has their own policy on what "current" means - consult the Show Manager beforehand if you have any questions.
  • TICA rules forbid obviously pregnant or lactating cats from attending shows. Cryptorchid or monorchid cats aged 8 months or older are not permitted.
  • Note also that all claws (front and back) should be clipped before a cat is judged.


  • After check-in is complete, please take your cat(s) to their assigned pens in the benching area.
  • The cat numbers or the exhibitor's name will be on the front of the pens and there will sometimes be a plan of the hall as well to help you.
  • Cats from the same owner are benched together rather than by class as is more usual at GCCF shows.
  • Pens can be decorated (as at the GCCF Supreme or at FIFe shows). Exhibitors can also provide their own pens (e.g. Sturdipens)
  • Please make sure that your cats have access to water and a litter tray.  Food and toys can be left in the pens at any time.
  • The cats are only handled by the exhibitor or the judge, so cats are not required to have tags round their neck

The Catalogue

  • At TICA shows, the cats, kittens, alters (which is how TICA describes neuters) and household pets are divided into Long-Hair and Short-Hair categories and then into breeds.
  • LH Kittens are numbered from 1 to 50, SH Kittens 51 to 100
  • LH Cats are numbered from 101 to 200, SH Cats from 201 to 300
  • LH Alters use numbers from 301 to 350, SH Alters from 351 to 399
  • LH HHPs are numbered from 401 and SH HHPs are numbered from 451
  • On receipt, please check your catalogue for any errors in the cat's breed, colour, sex, or age - you must see the Master Clerk to get any catalogue corrections made before judging starts.
  • Other errors (such as spelling mistakes) can be notified to the Master Clerk during the day as these do not affect judging. TICA is more relaxed about such things than other registries.
  • It is important that the TICA registration number (if the cat is registered with TICA) is correctly recorded as this is used when being scored for Annual Awards.
  • TICA catalogues are working documents - you use them to record the results for each of your cats.

When to take your cat to a Ring

  • Judging takes place in the judging area, which will have a number of  rings.  Each ring is presided over by a judge, who has a Ring Clerk and perhaps a steward to help him.
  • The Ring Clerk ensures that the right exhibits are called up to the ring at the right time, and also records the judge's decisions.
  • Exhibits within a group (e.g. LH Cats) are normally judged in numerical order
  • The steward is responsible for keeping the holding pens clean and, unlike GCCF or FIFe shows, stewards will not handle any cats or transfer cats to/from the benching area.
  • There will be a judging schedule  to give you some idea of when your cat will be judged in each ring.  Sometimes this is printed in the catalogue, or may be provided as a handout
  • Each Ring Clerk will also make a series of announcements, for example "This is Ring 1, can we have Shorthair cats 251 to 256 to Ring 1 please"
  • It is your job as the exhibitor to ensure that your cat goes to the relevant ring, and is put into the holding pen with its number on it.  All grooming must be completed before taking your cat to the ring (and please don’t wait until you hear your number to start grooming your cat !) .
  • It is important that you watch the progress of the ring and/or listen out for your cat's number and get to the ring promptly when your number is first put onto a empty judging pen.
  • If the judge is transferring a cat to/from a holding pen, then please wait until the cat is either on the judging table or back in the pen before penning your cat.
  • Unlike FIFe shows, you may not sit holding your cat unless you have explicit permission from the judge.
  • If your cat is already in another ring (e.g. for judging or Finals) then please let the Ring Clerk know immediately and they will guide you on what to do if this happens.
  • Ring Clerks will make up to 3 calls for a cat - if it is not in the ring by then it will be marked as absent from that ring.
  • Individual cat numbers are not announced for "Finals", so when the ring clerk announces that (for example) "numbers are posted for kitten finals in Ring 3" you may need to check if your cat's number is on a pen in the judging ring.


  • Do not speak to the judge unless you are specifically addressed by the judge.
  • Should you need to relay any information to the judge, speak first to the ring clerk and they in turn will notify the judge
  • In judging, kittens, cats and alters and HHPs are judged separately.  All that the Judge knows about the cat is the breed, colour, sex and age.
  • There are no separate classes for males and females
  • The judge takes the cat from the holding pen, places it on the judging table, evaluates the cat against their knowledge of the written standard, returns the cat to the pen and continues on.
  • Although the speed of judging may be faster than you have experienced before, the judges have been trained to properly evaluate your cat.  Generally, TICA judges handle a cat for as long as a FIFe judge does, but because there is no written report it seems so much faster!

Taking your cat out of the Ring

  • Once the judge or the ring clerk has turned the number card on the pen face down, this is a signal for you to remove your cat from the holding pen.
  • If you have time, first note down in your catalogue the Colour or Division results hung on the pen. Don't worry too much if you can't do this at your first show - someone else can often help you fill in the blanks afterwards
  • During Finals, once the judge has announced the Best Cat/Kitten/Alter/HHP, then you can take your cat out of the ring, along with your Finals rosette.
  • If you have to go immediately to another ring after a Final, take the cat first then return to collect your rosette. This way you avoid showing the other ring that your cat Finaled with another judge.

Judging Sequence

  • There is a pyramid of evaluation - first all cats of the same breed and colour are judged against the TICA standard for that breed.
  • Up to 5 cats are selected as the best-five representatives of their breed in that colour, and the judge will place different coloured ribbons on the pens to show the placings.
  • Blue is Best of Colour, red is 2nd Best of Colour, yellow is 3rd Best of Colour, green is 4th Best of Colour and white is 5th Best of Colour.
  • After judging each colour class within a Division, the judge will then award Division placings - Best of Division (black ribbon), 2nd Best of Division (purple ribbon) and 3rd Best of Division (orange ribbon).  Awards are again shown by placing the ribbons on the pens.
  • The five TICA pattern Divisions are: Solid, Tabby, Tortoiseshell, Silver/Smoke, and Particolor (i.e. cats with white)
  • If a judge chooses to announce their Best of Breed, 2nd Best of Breed and 3rd Best of Breed, she/he may do so.  Like GCCF BoBs, these don't count towards any titles.
  • Being placed in Breed may mean that your cat is called to a Final, however with only 10 places available in a Final, not every Best of Breed cat will Final.


  • After the judge has seen all kittens, cats or alters, he/she decides on their best exhibits across all the ones that they have judged.
  • A Speciality (SP) Final will be the best exhibits from either the Longhair or Shorthair category.
  • An All Breed (AB) Final will be the best exhibits drawn from both Longhair and Shorthair categories.
  • Speciality Judges can only hold Speciality Finals
  • "Finals" are effectively a "Best in Show" for that ring.
  • The Ring Clerk only announces that Finals numbers have been posted not the numbers themselves (this removes the risk that an announcement might influence a judge in another ring). It is your responsibility to check if your cat is needed and take your cat to the ring.
  • The judge will explain his/her placings - between top 5 and top 10 (depending on how many cats are competing).The judge usually explains what they liked about each cat and their ranking before placing a Finals rosette on the pen.
  • At least 25 exhibits must be present and competing to hold a "Top 10" Final. 20 or less exhibits require a "Top 5" Final. 24 exhibits is a Top 9 Final and so on.
  • As an exhibitor, it is good etiquette to thank the judge on leaving the ring if your cat has been Finalled.

You can always tell when finals are happening because of the cheering and applause that greets each announcement.

Earning Titles

  • Titles are earned by a combination of points awarded and getting one or more Finals places.
  • You can earn more than one title in a show or over a show weekend.
  • Titles must be claimed in writing by the exhibitor (a) using the official claim form and sending it to the TICA Executive Office (b) responding to the letter sent out by TICA once the show has been checked in the EO or (c) or through the automatic title claim process
  • A copy of the form and scoring explanation is usually in the catalogue - or can be downloaded from the TICA website
  • Titles can only be awarded to TICA-registered cats.
  • In England, a cat needs 300 points and one Final to earn Champion status
  • 1,000 points and 6 Finals are needed to earn Grand Champion status
  • Further Grand titles require extra points and at least one Final earned at the previous level
  • Alters and Household Pets have equivalent awards
  • Best of Colour is worth 25 points down to 5 points for 5th Best of Colour
  • Best of Division is worth 25 points down to 15 points for 3rd Best of Division
  • Every Finals place has a points value. From 200 points (Best) to 110 points (10th Best) in AB Finals or from 150 (Best) to 60 points (10th Best) in SP Finals
  • Points scores are cumulative - so the 1,000 points for Grand Champion includes the 300 points gained at Champion level and so on.

Regional and International Awards

  • All TICA-registered kittens, cats, alters, HHPs and HHP KIttens can compete for Regional and International Awards during the show year (1 May to 30 April).  At the end of each show year, all counts return to zero.
  • To keep points towards Regional and International Awards from your first show, you must apply for your cat to be registered before its second TICA show. This page explains this in more detail.
  • Scoring for these awards uses the same base data (colour, division, breed and finals placement) but is calculated in a different way to titles.
  • Scoring is done automatically by the Executive Office (EO), and uses the TICA registration number to identify each cat.
  • Any errors in the registration numbers in show catalogues (or any shows where the cat's registration number was not in the catalogue) need to be notified to the EO by 7 May each year.
  • Congresses do not count towards Regional and International Awards
  • The number of exhibits competing in the ring is used in calculating the score - so a cat finalling as Best Cat with 53 exhibits competing in an Allbreed ring gets 200 + 52 points, the 2nd Best gets 190 + 51 points and so on
  • If, for example, a cat did not final but was placed third best of breed, with 21 cats in that breed, it would get 18 points.
  • Regional Awards are presented to the Top 20 Cats, Kittens, Alters, Household Pets, and Household Pet Kittens at the Regional Awards Banquet. These top winners are featured in slide presentations at the Regional Awards Banquet.
  • The Top 10 Cats, Kittens, Alters, and Household Pets, and the Top 10 Household Pet Kittens in each region are featured in the TICA YEARBOOK in colour, free of charge.
  • The Regional Top 20 Longhair and Shorthair Cats, and Breed Award winners, are honoured at the Regional Awards Banquet. See UK-owned Regional Winners here.
  • Unofficial standings are published by David Thomas on his website and official standings are available from the main TICA web-site.

We hope this has explained how showing and judging works in TICA.  If you have any other queries then don't hesitate to ask one of the show organisers.  If they don't know the answer themselves, they will know "someone who does"!

Adapted from an original article by Cattica All Breeds Cat Club, and used with their permission

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