Gigis show debut came over Labor Day weekend, 1993. The TICA
Annual took place in Valley Forge, PA. That was 1993, it hasnt
been back in my region since, but thats another story. This
is the biggest show of the TICA season, the one where the year-end
awards are handed out. I entered three cats- Bo,
Penelope, who was also new to showing just two weeks shy of her tenth
birthday, and Gigi.
| Showing a cat for the first time can be stressful. After knowing
Gigi for only a couple of weeks, I was fairly confident that shed
do fine in the show hall. What worried me about showing her was how
shed look. I knew nothing about grooming Somalis! I had never
even touched one, much less bathed and combed one, before I got Gigi.
I wasnt entirely certain I knew what I was doing with an Aby;
how was I going to handle this! Im sure I gave Gigi a practice
bath before that show, but I dont remember now whether I did
or what I used. She must have behaved for her baths back then because
if she didnt, I KNOW Id remember THAT! One doesnt
soon forget being cut to ribbons or chasing a slippery cat around
the house. I had been lucky with bathing subjects, though nobody will
ever top Bo, who sat in the water, purred and licked me while I applied
various strange liquids and water to his blue coat. I DO remember
that I was bathing cats quite late on Friday night; we had gone over
to set up our cages that evening, so wed have less to do the
next morning, and because the show hall was so close to home. I didnt
finish bathing Gigi until well after 11PM.
Luckily for me, because I dont know how I would have done
this without her, Pauline had entered a cat and was benched next
to me. I got my cats set up in their cages, received some lessons
on Somali-combing from Pauline, and then the adventure began, and
it really was an adventure! The show was huge and poor Gigi
was one of 62 longhairs, a gigantic kitten class for TICA. Maybe
this was a good thing. My bad grooming job would get lost in the
judging. There were campaigners aplenty so I wasnt expecting
her to final anyway.
One of the first judges to see Gigi was Gloria Stephens, a longtime
allbreed judge, genetics instructor, and author. When her number
was called, I went to the ring, put Gigi in the cage, and joined
Pauline and my mom in the front row to watch the judging. Gloria
took Gigi out, stood her on her back legs (Somalis hate this), stretched
her, examined her ticking, her head, her eyes, her ears. Gigi seemed
to be comfortable in the ring under the nice warm halogen light.
Everything was going great, until a look came over Glorias
face and she called for the breeder or the owner. Pauline said that
she was the breeder and Gloria asked her if she was sure the cat
I can only imagine what our faces looked like. I didnt know
what to do. I was new to all this; maybe she really wasnt
fawn, even though she did look awfully fawn to my untrained eye.
Pauline tried to show Gloria all the ways that Gigi was fawn, but
Gloria would have none of it. Finally she proclaimed, If this
cat was fawn, she would be pink!
Pauline, my mother and I all cried in unison, She IS pink!
Gloria questioned her color every single time Gigi went into her
ring, without exception. Good thing there were 12 judges at that
show. They couldnt all insist that Gigi was sorrel, or some
color other than fawn.
The cat Pauline was showing was a beautiful boy named Coquelicot,
which is a red flower. And Coquelicot was a red cat. He was a gorgeous
rich mahogany red with deeply colored ticking. He was listed in
the catalog as a ruddy, and I thought he was ruddy for a short time.
It was a shame Gloria couldnt come out into the show hall
and see him in all his sorrelness, in the cage right next to Gigi.
They were definitely not the same color!
Judge Ellen Crockett presenting Gigi in
Photo: Cheryl Leigh
Despite the slightly tense start, the show was a great success
for Gigi! She made three finals on the weekend, an impressive outing
for any kitten at her first show, but definitely for a minority
breed and color.
Gigi did only two more shows as a kitten, finishing with a total
of six finals. She made two at her next show, Keestone in October,
and wrapped up her kitten career at Westchester in November, with
one final. Her six finals were enough to earn her a minor regional
award- she was 2nd Best Somali Kitten in the Northeast Region for
the 93-94 show season. At the time, I didnt think it was that
great but now that I look back on it and consider the size of the
region at that time, the little pink thing did good!
Showing as an adult would be an even bigger challenge.