The 13 Best Cat Shows of 2024

A young girl in a blue sweatshirt smiles while looking sideways at a curly-haired brown cat perched on her shoulder like a parrot. There are booths and cat cages visible behind them.

You’ve heard of the Westminster Dog Show. You’ve likely also heard of the American Kennel Club. But what if we told you that the same kinds of events and organizations exist for cats?

That’s right — in this blog post, we’re taking a peek behind the curtain at the world of competitive cat shows and the organizations that determine who gets to compete and who takes home the Best in Show ribbon. Plus, we’ve rounded up 13 of the must-see cat exhibitions of 2024 so you can experience the magic and madness for yourself.

What Is a Cat Show?

A woman in a purple sweater looks up and holds her hands out underneath a white kitten as it climbs a scratching post.
CFA Judge Jan Rogers is there to catch a Devon Rex kitten as it shows off its climbing skills on the judges’ podium.

When people hear the words “cat show” for the first time, they often get a puzzled look on their face. For the uninitiated, it’s helpful to think of a cat show as a dog show without the obedience trials (because, well, cats).

A cat show is a formal exhibition in which domestic pedigreed cats are judged against their breed standard, an official written description of a breed’s ideal physical appearance, condition and temperament. Mixed-breed cats (usually categorized as “household pets”) are often eligible for entry in their own category, but are judged mainly on their physical condition and subjective aesthetics, rather than any breed standard. Cat show judges train for years, sometimes decades, to develop their eye for breed standards and memorize incredibly complicated scoring systems.

A chart that illustrates how cat show judges award points and ribbons based on criteria such as color, breed and division (e.g. short- or long-haired cats).
The International Cat Association’s year-end scoring system.

Most cat shows feature multiple judges’ rings with individual assessments running concurrently in front of an audience of breeders and spectators. Each ring hosts one category of cat at a time — one ring may be judging long-haired kittens (between four and eight months old), while another may be ranking altered (neutered/spayed) shorthairs.

In an assessment, the judge examines each cat in that category to determine how well they fulfill their breed’s standards, commenting for the audience’s benefit as they demonstrate the cat’s physicality through play. Cats are judged one by one on a center platform while a clerk records the judge’s remarks, and the other contenders wait their turn in cages behind the judge. Ribbons are awarded based on the judge’s determination of how well a cat represents its breed’s standard. Ribbon recipients move forward in a bracket-style progression, until the most-awarded cats assemble for one to be crowned Best in Show.

There is no financial reward for winning Best in Show. However, since the winners exemplify their breed’s physical ideal, they may become sought-after sires or dams for other breeders or prospective owners seeking purebred cats, so the owner of the winner stands to profit off sales of an adult cat or its kittens. Individual purebred cats and kittens can fetch anywhere from several hundred dollars to over $100,000 each.

A document titled “What Are the Judges Hanging on Each Cat’s Cage?” explains what the various colored prize ribbons mean and how they are awarded to cats.
An explanation of ribbons awarded by the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

But who sets these breed standards? That would be one of a small handful of registries and other organizations that painstakingly record and issue breed standards to breeders and cat clubs around the world. The world’s largest registry is the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), which recognizes 45 breeds and presides over 600 regional clubs worldwide. Most cat shows in the U.S. are hosted by CFA-affiliated clubs and all feline contenders are judged based on strict CFA standards. Founded in New Jersey in 1906, the CFA is now based in Alliance, Ohio, where they ardently maintain rule books for breed standards, judge training, show judging, clerking and more.

Another major entity in the world of breed standards is The International Cat Association (TICA), which also governs many regional cat clubs and shows. TICA is slightly more lenient than the CFA, recognizing 73 breeds and maintaining the world’s largest registry for cats in the household pet category. (TICA also claims to keep the “world’s largest genetic registry of pedigreed cats,” but it depends on whose metrics you measure.) TICA publishes its own rule book for judges and offers a mentoring program for new exhibitors.

But cat shows are not just exclusive beauty pageants. They also serve as a forum for animal welfare advocates, feline health experts and proponents of ethical breeding to educate the public on their causes. Many cat shows host vendors selling cat toys, pet food (including RAWZ!), scratching posts and cat-themed handicrafts. Shows are often themed around certain holidays and may even host a cat costume contest inspired by the theme. If they are lucky, visitors may also meet therapy pets or adoptable cats!

Perhaps best of all, cat shows offer a place for people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances to gather around a shared love for cats.

Cat Show Categories

Cats registered to compete in a show fall into one of two categories: pedigreed or household pet.

Pedigreed Cat Shows

Pedigreed cats are judged according to official breed standards and must exemplify the ideal traits of their breed. For example, an Egyptian Mau must have bright green eyes the color of gooseberries; a Bengal must sport a coat covered in rosettes, not spots; and a Maine Coon’s chin must be square when viewed from the front. Specifications account for every minute detail of a cat’s physicality, down to the height of its haunches or the distribution of its muscle groups.

Purebred cats are not necessarily judged against other members of their breed; instead, all cats are grouped into categories such as color, coat length, age or reproductive status (spayed/neutered cats are considered “altered”; those with their reproductive organs are considered “intact”).

Each cat must be registered with the organization presiding over the show, and its owner must be an active member in good standing. Owners and breeders must be able to provide proof of their cats’ lineage so judges can verify that there has been no historical cross-breeding (professional breeders keep meticulous records). If a judge determines that a cat does not meet their breed standards, or if the show organizers detect evidence of unethical breeding practices, cats and their owners are disqualified.

Household Pet Shows (HHP)

Household pet competitions — also called moggy shows in Britain — occur alongside pedigreed cat shows and are far less stringent. They are strictly for mixed-breed cats whose owners have no record of their ancestry, or pedigreed cats who do not meet their breed standards. The only categories are Adult (over eight months old) or Kitten (between four and eight months). Cats must be spayed or neutered, and must not be declawed.

HHP competitions have grown in popularity over the years, as more people discover cat shows and breed registries become more inclusive. Anyone and their cat can enter a household pet competition if they complete the formal registration process and meet the eligibility requirements. Cats are assessed based on their physical appearance, grooming, vitality and sometimes their personality; the CFA judges household pets “for their uniqueness, pleasing appearance, unusual markings, and sweet dispositions.”

While there are standards for these qualities, they are much more flexible, subjective and open to interpretation than breed standards. The CFA even awards special merit ribbons to cats who simply appear to be in good health.

Qualifications for Participating in a Cat Show

To compete against other purebred cats, show contenders must:

  • Exemplify the physical standards of their breed (slight variations are acceptable to allow for individual judges’ interpretations and objective comparisons)
  • Receive approval from the governing board of the applicable certifying organization
  • Provide records of lineage
  • Provide records of up-to-date vaccinations
  • Demonstrate evidence of ethical breeding practices
  • Be reasonably well-behaved for the duration of the judging

Regarding behavior, it is generally not in a cat’s nature to obey commands or maintain their composure amid unfamiliar stimuli. Therefore, if a nervous cat swats at a judge or hisses at another cat, it is not automatically disqualified. A cat can only be disqualified based on personality if it is excessively aggressive to the point that it can’t be handled. However, this quality will likely be recognized long before a cat ever enters the judge’s ring, and its owners will wisely keep it at home where it feels safest.

Like pedigreed cats, household pets must also display an even temperament and be up-to-date on their vaccinations (honorary bonus points for possessing a calm “show temperament”). They must be clean, neutered or spayed, well-groomed and in good health, but their coat pattern, length or color should have no bearing on their assessment. HHPs don’t even need to have all body parts intact — cats with missing limbs and eyes can compete equitably against others in their age class.

All cats, regardless of their pedigree status, are expected to be in good health and free of sickness. Cat shows are notorious for spreading cat colds and feline flus, so any cat that displays obvious signs of a communicable illness should stay at home.

Owners and handlers are expected to arrive at every show with their own supplies to keep their cats comfortable between judgings. Need-to-have items can include:

  • Cage (if not provided by the show organizers)
  • Cage curtains and curtain clips
  • Blankets or other comfort items for the cage
  • Litter and litter tray
  • Food and water bowls
  • Preferred food, toys and treats
  • Grooming equipment (brushes, nail clippers, etc.)

Some of these items, such as litter and cages, are typically provided by the show organizers.

On the administrative side, every competitor must be accompanied by:

  • Physical vaccination records
  • Physical registration papers
  • A confirmation slip from the entry clerk
  • Pedigree records, if applicable

With all of these boxes checked, competitors can finally focus on the important part — the show itself!

Best Cat Shows Happening in 2024

Now that you’ve completed Cat Show 101, it’s time to test your knowledge at a cat show near you! If you don’t see your city, state or region listed here, chances are a quick internet search of your location + “cat show” will turn up some promising results. If the date has already passed, don’t worry — there’s always next year.


JANUARY 27 & 28, 2024

San Diego, CA

This cat show will likely have already passed by the time you read this blog post — but now you have plenty of notice to plan for next year! Hundreds of cats from around the world enter the competition to be judged by a dozen international judges. There’s an Agility Ring for cats to demonstrate their physicality and an Education Ring for first-timers to get up to speed on their breeds. The show is one of many hosted and managed by a regional chapter of the Cat Fanciers’ Association — the oldest chapter in the Southwest! (Find the full 2024 CFA schedule here.)


FEBRUARY 10 & 11, 2024

Sacramento, CA

If you follow the cat show circuit for any length of time, you’ll likely come across Steven Meserve and his independent organization Loving Cats Worldwide (LCWW). Steven hosts Catstravaganza competitions all over the world and promotes The Meserve Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public on issues surrounding cat overpopulation, rescue shelters and cat caregivers in need of support.

A man with a bleach blond ponytail and a black headset microphone cradles a small cat with brown-and-black stripes and spots.
Steven Meserve holds a young Bengal at a 2023 Catstravaganza event in Pleasanton, Calif.


FEBRUARY 17 & 18

Santa Rosa, CA

This traditional cat show, the largest annual event hosted by a San Francisco-based chapter of the CFA, is always held on the third weekend in February. It features a full program of formal judging, cat education, a silent auction, a crowd-favorite competition, and the always-entertaining agility ring.


MARCH 8–10, 2024

Columbus, OH

Part of the All American Columbus Pet Expo, this TICA-judged cat show features seven rings, over 200 entrants and a vendors’ market. Beyond the cat show, you can also catch canine athletes, a pet-themed comedian, a pig circus and reptile meet-and-greets!


APRIL 27 & 28, 2024

Plant City, FL

Florida-based New Vision Cat Club hosts at least two shows a year under the CFA umbrella. The Spring Spectacular takes place around the end of the show season, so it’s many competitors’ last chance for a ribbon until the next season begins in May. New Vision shows almost always include adoptable cats alongside the pedigreed competitors. (Find more Florida cat shows here.)

Three women pose together; the woman in the middle smiles at the camera, while the other two each hold a long-haired cat and a multicolored prize ribbon.
Judge Jacqui Bennett poses with two proud breeders and their prize-winning cats.


MAY 4 & 5, 2024

White Plains, NY

Join Steven Meserve and his LCWW crew in the Empire State for some healthy competition, educational seminars, cat-toy shopping and meet-and-greets with experienced and ethical breeders.


MAY 4 & 5, 2024

Concord, NH

Further up the east coast, the New Hampshire-based Seacoast Cat Club is hosting its annual show the same weekend. Don’t forget, household pets are eligible for entry at most CFA and TICA shows! If you’re considering entering your pet but aren’t sure about going up against big-city competition, smaller regional cat shows like this one are a good place to dip your cat’s toe beans in.

A man in a magenta button-down shirt and pink tie holds a green feather above the head of a brown spotted cat. The cat stands on its hind legs and grips onto a scratching post.
Judge Russell Webb uses a feather to entice a Bengal to stretch.


JULY 20, 2024

Colorado Springs, CO

One day only! CatFest includes a traditional, TICA-run show, but that’s only part of the program. Suffice to say, this is the season’s hottest ticket for cat lovers east of the Rockies. A short list — emphasis on SHORT — of events and activities includes a cat video cafe, cat adoption booths, a Hello Kitty bounce house, an Egyptian cat temple (complete with tarot readings), cat history lessons and much, much more.


AUGUST 3 & 4, 2024

Pasadena, CA

While not necessarily a competitive cat show, CatCon is nonetheless one of the biggest pop culture events for cat lovers worldwide. The star-studded guest list is stacked with super-influencers from the feline side of social media; think Jackson Galaxy, Christopher Watson of the Catluminati and the late but great Grumpy Cat. What happens at CatCon tends to have a major effect on trends in the care, keeping and media presence of cats. A portion of ticket sales is donated to a long list of charities, shelters and other pet-centric nonprofits.

A man in a red t-shirt and backwards baseball cap speaks into a microphone in front of a blue backdrop featuring the words “CatCon Kitty Coliseum.” The man’s shirt reads “Real men love cats.”
Influencer and proud cat dad Nathan the Cat Lady (Nathan Kehn) commands the crowd’s attention at the 2023 CatCon.


OCTOBER 12 & 13, 2024

Cleveland, OH

This is it — the biggest event on the annual cat show calendar. The CFA is arguably the most influential force in the world of cat breeders, and this show is a veritable who’s-who of feline luminaries. Once upon a time, this show was invitation-only, but now anyone can rub elbows with royalty.

A sleek brown cat with large ears and piercing yellow eyes sits gazing intently into the camera against a royal blue background.
The 2023 Best in Show winner of the CFA International Cat Show: Omnia Mea Kot Da Vinci of Abycastle, a male Abyssinian from Omnia Mea Cattery.


OCTOBER 12 & 13, 2024

Boston, MA

If you can’t make it to the CFA International Cat Show in Cleveland, Steven Meserve makes a fine consolation prize. While likely unintentional, it is noteworthy that these two events take place on the same weekend, illustrating the fact that Meserve’s LCWW Group operates completely independently from both CFA and TICA.


NOVEMBER 22–24, 2024

Schaumburg, IL

In between the judges’ assessments, you can find grooming demonstrations, meet therapy cats, catch a feline fashion show and even have your face painted like the cat of your wildest dreams.



Los Angeles, CA

Looking for Los Angeles-area cat shows? CatsLA posts Southern California shows as they come up, so keep the page bookmarked for whenever you’re in the area.

Cat Show Etiquette

As with any competition show that’s open to the public, there is a code of conduct at all cat shows. Some rules are common sense — for example, cats are very sensitive to noise, so it’s recommended that spectators refrain from shouting or even clapping loudly. Others are less intuitive and may take some restraint, such as not chasing after an escaped cat or reaching out to pat a passing fluffball.

Here are some general guidelines to follow as you begin your cat show adventures:

  • No dogs allowed (unless they are a well-trained service animal).
  • Always ask the owner’s permission to touch a cat; do not give unsolicited pats.
  • The judge’s rings and cages are for judges, clerks and owners only. Always stay on the audience’s side of the judging platform, and never enter the ring to get a closer look at the cats in cages.
  • Do not attempt to catch a cat’s attention while they are in the judge’s ring. While many show cats are used to the routine, others may become agitated at the sight of a wriggling feather or the sound of jingle bells, and may attempt to bolt or become difficult to restrain.
  • Do not offer anything to a cat without the owner’s explicit permission, including toys, treats or your hand.
  • No shouting, whistling, whooping or even clapping loudly when judges announce their results. Children may need a gentle reminder to use their inside voices.
  • Cats and their owners always have the right of way. If you see someone carrying a cat, give them plenty of space.
  • If you hear “CAT OUT!” at any point during the event, freeze and stay in one spot. Do not try to catch the cat — let the owner and event staff take care of it.

If you practice good cat show etiquette, you’ll have a great time! Cat shows are wonderful opportunities to learn about the immense world of cat breeds and breeding practices, the judging process, feline health and wellness, animal welfare nonprofits and so much more. We at RAWZ can say from personal experience that there’s always something new to discover, and who knows — we just might see you there!