Cats, Beauty Pageants, and Haute Attitudes: Beauty Pageant Histories of All Kinds from Miss Feline to Miss America

Kathy LaFollett
Cat Shows and Cat Personalities were meant to be in the same place.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

If there was ever an animal meant to be judged, it’s the cat. Because they don’t care what we think. A cat allows or forbids. We cat lovers like to think we’re making headway; we’re just riding a train of tolerance. Why do they call it a catwalk in pageants and runway modelling? Because models walk like a cat. Cat walking elevated platforms and ramps, looking disinterested. Vaguely annoyed. Giving off the scent of disdain and utter social exhaustion. They barely tolerate us, these perfect breed humans. Yes, cats are a perfect fit for pageant and breed shows.
Diva like a Cat at a Cat Show and you've proven you understand the word DIVA.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Westminster and their dogs is the polar opposite. Dogs care about what everybody thinks. Dogs want to be good. Dogs want to please. All the disinterest, vague annoyance, disdain, and social exhaustion is found in the faces of judges, owners, breeders, and handlers. The dogs? They’re there for the snacks, other dogs, and attention. They are all very good dogs.

Pageants and beauty shows started in the 1850’s as photo contests. Bathing beauty contests arrived in the 1880’s. They held the first organized pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 1921 Miss America Pageant. Hollywood films and newsreels helped foment the idea of beauty pageants to be ‘discovered’. In 1839, at a renaissance fair, a medieval joust re-enactment added a beauty pageant by crowning a ‘Queen of Beauty’. Medieval history doesn’t talk about beauty pageants during jousting competitions. Seems a lost opportunity.

Other species shows are not new in their own right. There’s a competitive show for just about any bred creature you can think of particularly domestic pets. Reptiles, rabbits, chickens, cow, pig, calf, and goat. The list goes on. These are vicarious events for humans. If we can’t compete against beautiful humans, we will compete using our animals. This applies to the cats. What doesn’t apply to the cats is their concern about what we think of them, or ourselves. We are a burden to be pitied and plied.
You make a good door, human.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

In 1906, a not-for-profit organization named itself The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). The Association licensed its first cat shows that year. By 1920, CFA growth put it on track to be the largest registry of pedigreed cats to date. There are hundreds of cat shows with thousands of disinterested fantastic cats indulging these competitions across the US. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has a searchable page to find cat shows near you.

Upcoming 2023 Florida Cat Show dates include:

  • Clearwater - Skyway Cat Club Shows - LCWW Allbreed Cat Show.
  • Tampa/Virtual 2023 Cat Day 1K, 5K, 10K Event - Not a cat show, but a cat supporting day to show cats their superior nature humbles us. They are not stooping so low as to run anywhere.
  • Plant City CFA Allbreed and Household Pet Cat Show - The type of cat show that welcomes all to participate. That the cats didn’t ask for this isn’t discussed.
  • Daytona Beach (New Location Plant City for 2023 ONLY) That’s My Point Cat Fanciers have moved their Daytona Beach event to Plant City for 2023. Word on the street is the cats prefer Daytona Beach and will hold a lay down strike the day of the obstacle course competition. Organizers tried explaining the reasoning behind the one-time venue change, but the cats were on their last whisker. A cat can only accept so many excuses.
  • Sarasota Bradenton - Cat Extravaganza and Rescue Awareness Event. Adding the word extravaganza after one, Cornelius Cat promoted the word from his napping window at The Villages. His opinion on the matter came to bear the day they dragged him into the event. Adjectives are important in fomenting proper attitude when living with cats. So claimed Cornelius.

There’s best of breed based on defined standards, and no breed standard judging that simply takes in appearance, health, and temperament/personality. There’s the cat obstacle course competition. Cat running is timed, and they receive points for each obstacle’s completion. Cat costume competition is a cat lover’s favorite as spectators are the judges rather than a cat judge. Crowd noise and hand signals seal the winner’s fate. Like the Roman Coliseum and gladiators, but without the violence. It’s noted a cat dressed as an Easter bunny won Ohio in 2022.
Maybe you shouldn't have left it on the table then, human.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Household cat shows are every cat lover’s gateway into the serious competitive side of standard breed competitions. If your tabby seems compliant, you can place them on a pedestal in front of a judge. Temperament must include being open to manhandling by judges, disinterest in surrounding chaos, and tolerance to lack of privacy. A tall order for some felines.

Cat cafes for celebrating a win are easy to find. There’s 144 cafes open for business nationally.

So, what’s it cost to enter your tolerant cat into a cat show? Your time, travel expenses, and entry fee. Fees average $35 to $75 depending. The costs of living with a cat after they win can be expensive. But then again, they think they won on principle alone.
You think you can just burst in here and interrupt my beauty rest, human? And you smell funny.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

But what’s it cost to turn a house cat into a runway diva?

  • The cat’s perspective isn’t costs. They’re interested in the number of times you interrupt their nap. Their meal. Their window pondering. Their bedspread meditation, toilet paper roll unrolling, litter box digging, wall clawing, floor dragging, laptop toasting, shelf clearing schedules. As far as obstacle courses, we are the obstacle course. Why bring that tube into the equation? You need a hobby that doesn’t include them.
  • Money wise, it will cost what it’s cost to keep your cat to this point. A house cat is already a runway diva. And don’t think there’s a scholarship at the end of a blue ribbon. Cat shows are not a lucrative endeavor for you, or your cat. You could win a free entry for next year’s competition, though. Your cat may score a cat tower, or possibly a scratching post. Which you should have thought of before all this brouhaha show business.

Cat shows are for cat lovers to meet other cat lovers and celebrate the feline lifestyle with joy and humor. It’s a great place to make friends, build confidence, and know you aren’t the only cat lover who is pitied and plied by a runway diva cat.

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Florida author, speaker, and wildlife/companion animal advocate writing about life in the Sunshine State from my cityscape, St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg, FL

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