|Gosh, American shows sound awful! Cat shows are supposed to be about sportsmanship, as well as about competition and just enjoying cats--I think the CFA has something to say about sportsmanship in its regulations. Someday, when I have enough money and time, and the right cat, I'd like to go to the U.S. for the yearly National Show (or whatever it's called), but I guess I'll have to be prepared for American behavior, which I often find jarring. American judges often appear at Japanese cat shows, but while the women are usually very pleasant and helpful, some of the men are a horror. There's one guy who just picks the poor cat by the shoulders, glares at it, lets it dangle, then throws it back in the cage.
I'm also surprised that there is so much competitiveness in the HHP class. I guess it must have to do with the fact that (if Catster is any indication) Americans take non-breed/mixed breed/rescue cats more seriously than Japanese do. In Japan, the HHP competitions are very laid-back; the judge jokes and talks with the exhibitors, who are often kids showing the family moggie. To be frank, the HHP competitions in Japan don't have much cachet, so there's not much impetus for people to get very competitive. The same was true for the Premiership competition until recently; I believe that, in the States, since most breed cats are sold already desexed, the Premiership competition is pretty stiff, but in Japan, the Championship competition is still the most prestigious, followed by the Kitten class. However, the Championship ring is dominated by breeders, and to a lesser extent, so is the Kitten ring. The Premiership class attracts some breeders, but mostly pet owners who have a fine purebred neuter/spay that they want to show.
However, many people, like me, start out as amateur exhibitors in the Premiership Class, and end up wanting to try their hand at breeding. The problem with breeding, and with showing Maine Coons in the Championship ring, is that you need an intact male, which means that you have to live with the odor of intact cat urine for as long as the cat is competing or acting as a stud tom (until it's around 5 or 6). I'm currently looking for a stud male, which is a big commitment, but if you're a cattery and want to be taken seriously, you have no choice.
Anyway, back to your story. Recently in Japan, a very high-ranking MC dominated the Kitten Class one year and the Championship Class the next, and he was such a large boy even as a kitten that there were nasty rumors that the owner had lied about his birth date, since the owner was also his breeder (i.e. he was several months older than the breeder claimed he was). When you breed your own cats, who's to know? Personally, I didn't believe the rumors, because the big kitten grew up to be an enormous (but not fat) MC--he just hit the gene jackpot.
However, while rumors are rife in the Japanese cat show world, the Japanese tend to talk behind people's backs (and they can be quite vicious, although not regarding me, as far as I know, probably because I'm not much of a competitor yet), rather than directly confronting the exhibitor. I would think that an exhibitor going to a judge and "tattling" on another exhibitor is a violation of CFA rules. Furthermore, the fact that the judge believed the tattler and now doesn't give you good marks reflects very poorly on that judge. I hear rumors of people in Japan giving judges "presents" (read: bribes, mostly monetary), but the practice is not very widespread--none of my acquaintances do it, as far as I know. Some judges do seem to favor cats from famous catteries; they're not supposed to know who owns which cat, but when it's the same judges and same exhibitors every week, obviously the judges figure out who owns which cat(s) very quickly. There are some judges, I know, who give me a few extra points because they like me and want to encourage me; there are a few others who absolutely can't stand Harvey (and this began before he started acting out at shows), and who I think also don't like me. Happily, I feel no racial discrimination at cat shows; since the CFA is based in the U.S., the catalogues are in English, and people are inclined to be friendly towards Americans.
Remember that a lot of hostility is based on jealousy. When my Chibi was consistently beating out another kitten from a famous cattery, I got a lecture from the cattery owner about all of Chibi's shortcomings as a MC. I suspect that that the cattery owner wasn't too pleased that a cat from a middling cattery who was rather cheap to buy was beating out a kitten from a famous cattery whose prices are high.
What I really don't understand is the MC lady who declared that Bumpurr was a MC. If he were a MC, you would have a registration number and likely be showing him in the Premiership Class, where he would obviously do very well. Why would anyone with a breed cat choose to show in the HHP class? (As I said before, in Japan the HHP class is more for fun than prestige, although of course the HHP class does count as a category in the Regional (National) winners competition.)
Please understand that this is not MY personal opinion of the HHP class (I'd love to enter Spike, but he'd be scared--he is a former feral), but the general opinion of the Japanese cat world. Remember that this is a country where most people spay/neuter their pets, but there isn't as much pressure to do so as in the States, and I've never heard anyone say "Buying a purebred cat from a breeder means the death of one more cat in a shelter." Japanese cat lovers tend to prefer moggies, but the Japanese are also a brand-name loving people, and so breed cats are popular, too. When I was a child, if someone said, "What kind of cat do you have?", you'd answer with its color--everyone had a dsh. In Japan, first they ask you the breed. There is no prejudice here against breeders, except, of course, backyard breeders. The other difference is that all the shelters are kill shelters--as I understand it, the owner gets three days to try to find Fluffy in whichever shelter she was sent to, after which Fluffy meets a grisly end. There is no system of going to a shelter to choose a new pet. However, there are rescue groups, all of whom form a loose network. The rescue groups, however, are not without their problems; some foster parents refuse to let their cats be adopted by single people, or by people who are out of the house a lot (this is still a country where a majority of women stay at home to tend the house). Also, the rescued cats I've seen are often sick or even deformed; your best bet for getting a good cat in Japan is to buy from a reputable breeder, or get a kitten from a friend whose healthy and happy moggie has had an "oops" litter.
Speaking of which, last season, the number one HHP in Japan, a "spayed" female, just happened to give birth after the show season was over. HHPs, of course, must be desexed. No one would have been the wiser, but the owner posted the joyous news on her blog! She was stripped of her award, and lucky #2 became #1. Duh!!!
Back to shampoos: I don't think we have Suave in Japan, but I myself am allergic to it, so I think I'll stick with my cat shampoos. As for washing kittens, when I turned on the dryer near their playpen, they all went absolutely berserk and started bouncing off the sides; poor Cabot wet herself from fear and managed to fall in such a way as to hurt her foot (it was okay the next day, however). I was surprised by this, since both of my previous kittens (Leila and Chibi) put up with the hair dryer the first time they were shown, at 4 months. Oh, well, I'm not planning to keep any of this litter, which means I'm unlikely to be showing them, but like anything else, getting them used to unpleasant things early in life is a must.