by Jette Eva Madsen.

When we look at the show bench for the Norwegian Forest Cat, and some other breeds, we see that there are many cats entered under the age of 10 months. There are quite a few entered from 1 to 3 years of age and in our breed we rarely see a cat older than 4 years of age.

Being a judge you recognize that the age distribution can be very different for other breeds. I can mention the Holy Birman where I at nearly each show see cats older than 10 years entered as neuters and veterans and every show I see cats around 6 years winning the competition for best in variety.

What is the reason leading to the disappearance of the Forest Cat from the show bench so early in life:

"The Forest Cat ages faster than other breeds"
I think the aging of Forest Cat is average. I can mention breeds that probably ages slower and breeds that probably ages faster.

"The breeders grow impatience faster "
Perhaps Forest Cat breeders give up faster and try to show a new cat.

"The breeders have more generations and faster turn over of show cats"
Many breeders do indeed neuter their cats very fast and keep an offspring.

"Forest Cat owners do not show neuters and older cats are often neuters"
Correct, in many countries only very few Forest Cat neuters are entered at shows.

"The standard has been written to suit a youthful cat"
Yes, standards favoring heads with straight sidelines and profiles definitely favors a youthful cat since most cats around the age of 5 will get more or less rounded in the head regardless of the type of cat. Also standards favoring large ears and long extremities favor cats younger than 5 years of age since most extremities after this time seem to be shorter in proportion to the body.

"The judges and breeders favor a youthful cat"
Yes, because our standard favors characters that you find best expressed in the younger cat.

Do we miss anything?

Well, favoring the younger cat because the head and extremities fit the standard better in this age is a risky business because it leaves us in a place where we nearly forget what a fully grown masculine male should look like.

It also leaves us in a place where we never show the cats who have the best developed personalities who can make good advertising for the breed. For a judge there is nothing better than having a fine old show cat with excellent personality a the judge table. For the spectator the kittens are pretty but I have noticed that they enjoy very much also to see the fully matured adult cats.

Perhaps we should give this a thought in the future and occasionally bring our veterans to the shows so that we can all enjoy the matured looks and personalities they have?