The Cat Fanciers’ Club was born in Johannesburg around 1979. At that time there were 2 other cat clubs in the region and some people felt there was no need for a third club. The founder members disagreed and made a commitment to not only serve the breeders and cat lovers that are members in the usual way, but to constantly try to introduce new, innovative ideas to try to keep the cat fancy growing and to attract exhibitors with fresh ideas and concepts on a regular basis.
This commitment to constantly try to introduce some fresh new concepts to the show world on a regular basis has been at the heart of every committee and show team in the last 37 years. It has not always been easy, as show rules inadvertently blocked some ideas from being implemented. In spite of this and in spite of changes to the committee over these years, some spectacular innovations and triumphs have been pulled off over the years.
Just to mention some of them: Three times since 1987 CFC held cat shows at Sun City where exhibitors had to travel and stay over at the hotel to be part of the show. In 1989 we had an invitation show only where no kittens were exhibited and the lowest ranking cats on show had to have at least two Challenge Certificates to be on show. This was extremely exciting to see only cats of such high quality on a show. We had shows in the Standard Bank Arena in the early 90’s with over 780 entries and international judges officiating and judging for us nearly every year.
Most of the CFC innovations are small things that affect exhibitors and the shows directly and have been picked up by other clubs and are now in many cases part of a normal show experience: stewards and other show officials eat the same meal in the middle of the day as the judges at all shows; this used to not be the case. We try to go the extra mile when setting up the show hall and decorating the hall in the colours of the sponsors and with the input of the sponsors if they so desire. Some spectacular show hall decorations have seen the light over the years.
Side classes and other fun competitions on the side in addition to the regular show experience has become a CFC trademark and has become extremely popular. Littermates competing, parents and offspring as competing units, competition for other attributes in the pure bred classes as well as in the pet classes are so popular with our exhibitors that we have a second assistant show manager that only deals with this aspect of the shows. If a show falls near a special public holiday, it is incorporated into the show day if possible. In this way Fathers’ Day becomes an opportunity to honour the stud cat, Mothers’ Day gives the females an opportunity to shine. In the early 2000s CFC introduced a Best in Show system that resulted in the best cat in each breed division being selected, and finally the best cat of the day. This was very popular with exhibitors and quickly adopted by other Gauteng clubs. It was applied for some years until a different system became necessary.
In 2004 CFC re-introduced the Gauteng Invitational Show, where cats earned points throughout the year in order to qualify to be invited. The best 40 Adults and neuters and the best 20 kittens and pets were then invited to the big day. On this day cats were judged in their various divisions, then divisions are merged and finally in an All breeds Round (Round 3), the ten best Adults and Neuters are announced in ascending order. At the end of the day, the best Adult, Neuter, Kitten and Household Pet would be announced, and then finally, the best Gauteng Cat! This system was applied for a good number of years.
In 2005 and 2006, the committee of CFC has been involved in a two day show run in conjunction with the Kennel Union of South Africa, another event that shifted barriers and introduced innovative ideas; for example, the fact that the Persian/Exotic and Foreign breeds were shown and judged on the Saturday, and then on the Sunday the Medium Hair breeds, Siamese/Orientals and Household Pets were shown and judged, with the Best Persian/Exotic exhibit and Best Foreign Exhibit returning on the Sunday afternoon to compete against the Sunday’s best Medium Hair and Siamese/Oriental exhibit to determine the Overall Best Cat for the whole weekend.
Continued exhibitions at shopping malls and hobby fairs will broaden our exposure to the public and the one on one contact between the members of the public and the club members at such occasions continue the process of sharing information and educating about pet ownership and the value and important role pets play in the well-being of their owners.
With this hobby competing with many other hobbies out there today the committee of 2016 have made a commitment to continue in the spirit of innovation and service to our members, exhibitors and sponsors, as was laid down for us by our predecessors.