Safety Precautions to Consider When Showing your Cats
In light of some events, in the recent past, where cats have been stolen at shows here are a few safety tips and suggestions for the exhibitor as well as the show committee for your consideration.
1) Try not to leave your cats unattended. Easier said than done, I know, if you are showing by yourself.
2) Get to know your fellow exhibitors around your benching area and set up a "neighborhood watch" and preferably with an exhibitor in the other Specialty to increase the chances of one of you always being in the area rather than in the rings at the same time.
3) Invest in some small padlocks that will either fit through the holes of both zippers on the show cage openings or around the door and doorframe bar of the metal cages.
4) Be aware of someone showing a little too much interest and point them out to the exhibitors around you to keep an eye out for them.
5) The worst time for you, and best time for a thief, is Sunday afternoon when exhibitors are breaking down and packing up. Leave your cats until last and load everything else up unless you can make it all in one trip, and then pack the cats and go. Don't leave them in a carrier, unattended at your benching area, making it easy for someone to just pick them up and go.
6) Have your cats microchipped. It won't prevent someone from stealing them but it will increase the odds of recovery. If you do it yourself rather than having the Vet do it share the cost of the chips and needle with another breeder as the chips are registered individually and you may have to purchase more than you actually need depending upon how they are packaged. Here are a few of the suppliers:
Here are some suggestions from our fellow exhibitors who took the time to write me:
7) Use European benching which only allows exhibitor’s access to the cats
8) I use big, heavy wood and glass security cages. They are bulky to carry in, but the cats look great in them and are very safe. Unfortunately it seems very few people are making wooden security cages these days. When I lived in California there were a couple of vendors who made Plexiglas fronts that clip onto the wire cages. Those keep a cat safe from being handled, but they are a pain when you yourself are going to take the cat to a ring because you have to lift up the front to get to the door, and they require you to use the wire cages. I also have seen ones where you actually flip the wire cage so the bottom is facing the front, and you put a Plexiglas, framed front with a door in it on the bottom of the wire cage.
9) One of the reason it becomes easy for someone to take a kitten or cat from a cage is because most of the time the same breed of cat are all benched together. For instance, when the adult Bengals are in a ring, the entire row of exhibitors is away from the benching area and up at the ring observing. It is easy pickings for someone to wander down the aisle, open a cage and snatch a kitten with nobody around.
10) Three things I do: 1. Stay at my benching area as much as possible. 2. Get acquainted with exhibitors benched nearby (if I'm not benched with friends) and keep an eye on their cats when they are away from the area -- and have them do the same for me. 3. Use a security cage and place locks on the zippers when I am going to have to be out of the benching area for any length of time. When I have kittens, I use a clear Plexiglas cage that provides great visibility with absolutely no opportunity to touch the kittens -- and it has built-in locks.) These procedures have worked well for me so far (eight years of showing)...and spectators enjoy seeing my cats and kittens up close and personal.
11) 3 or 4 of us showing different breeds usually bench together - that way at least one of us is always at the cage. So far in the SC shows we only have purses with money, credit cards, driver's licenses etc stolen. I don't know if you can call that lucky or not!
12. I know some people who have little locks for the zippers on their security cages. But if you need to leave your cats, and have nobody to mind them right then, buy a package of cable ties at a Dollar Store. They can't be undone without being cut, and if you secure your cage top and doors, nobody is going to risk standing there to cut them and get caught.
13. I have a couple of the security cages that I do a couple of things with. First I use a cord to secure the cage to the table from both sides and the back - that way the cats cannot turn it over (as I have seen happen several times) and someone cannot walk away with the cage as I have heard about at some TICA shows in the NW. I also use luggage locks for the zipper, you can buy packets of two, and set the combination for whatever you want - I have 8 locks all set to the same number (otherwise I would forget). When I am not sitting in front of my cage, I have it locked. I also make a point to know everyone that is benched next to me, front, back, and the sides - that way I can place a face with their cats and the same with mine.
14. Here in Europe if we don’t have our own cages we use several sheets of hard plastic (its called Plexiglas) with some holes at each side that we fix outside, on top and on the sides (of course we use European benching;) its possible to put a lock at the door also. of course someone could lift the cage but it gets quite heavy with that plastic on it and would be seen easily. a good idea is written explanations from the organization at the entrance and a bit all over to say that the cats should not be handled and why. some breeders also write that on their cage; and always try to speak to your neighbours and tell them when you leave
15. At least show with a group of people, and let one of the people always stay at the cages to take care of the cats! We do it that way. Wim shows the cats, I stay at our cages, and I never ever leave them alone.
16. At BosCats shows we have used a check-in ~ check-out policy. Since our shows have top security provided by the convention or expo centers, we have available a security guard at the door. When checking in exhibitors give and absentees at that time, the entry clerk, or whoever is doing the check-in also checks inside the kennels and counts the # of entries (and sales or exhibition/companion cats). They are given an index card, slip of paper, etc... that says "One Exhibit". When leaving the show hall they must go by the Security Guard and have the same amount of cards as cats. If someone sells a kitten to a spectator, they must give the new owner one of their cards or that person will not be allowed out of the showhall. Also, this protects the club against exhibitors cheating on kitten sales. They purchase a half cage for one cat or two kittens per cage FOR THE WEEKEND. That way they can't go back to their hotel room, or if a local, drive home and get more kittens to sell without attempting to enter by the security guard. No tickie - no kitty!!!!!!!!!!! Most importantly - it prevents someone from buying a cardboard carrier from a vendor and stealing a kitten or cat and simply leaving the show hall. Takes a little getting used to, but it does work.
17. Pete and Donna, the safest shows I have been to are some in Europe (not the UK) where the pens are laid out in squares, with the owners sitting inside the squares (with a small gap for them to get in - but strangers would be noticed). The pens open into the square so can only be got out by the owners. The front of the pens also had clear perspex in front of them to prevent poking fingers. If members of the public wished to look more closely at a cat, owners would take out the cat and display them on top of the pen (or, in the case of my friend who owns the father of my last stud cat, the cat was draped around his neck!) This is my favourite layout for shows as it also made for a more sociable atmosphere - there were tables and chairs inside each square and people shared bottles of wine, looked out for each others' cats and so on. I can't imagine it
18. This really is a tough question, and obviously one that we have given quite some thought too recently! We are going to install locks on our security cages in the future, and the cages will be locked most of the day. I know that one of the requirements of the hall where our club ( Pacific Coast Cat Fanciers) holds their June show is to hire an off-duty uniformed policeman. Last year, we asked the cop to basically stay out of sight and to keep an eye on the parking lot. This year, we are going to ask him to be much more visible, and to station himself by the entrance. Sad that it has come to this...
19. Use “C” clamps to hold the wire cages to the table and cover with your show curtains. Keeps the cage from being lifted up easily. Lock the doors and top.
I hope you have found something useful here; if it keeps even one cat safe it was well worth it.