Monday, March 29, 2010

Cat Agility!

Us darn cats! We seem to be content with our eat, sleep, play with the silly little faux mouse, eat, sleep lives, but no! We secretly want to be out in the agility ring.

Whoa, whoa, whoa… hold the phone! What did you say?

An agility contest is a circus of obstacles, something cats are too lazy or just too downright uninterested to do…right?

Wrong! For years we’ve seen excited dogs of all ages and their slightly worried, but still happy owners race around and across all kinds of devices designed to trip up the dog that is running the course. But dogs aren’t the only animals interested in agility. Some cats love to run obstacle courses too. It’s actually great for the high energy cats, as well as dogs, with few places to burn it off. As you learn about cat agility you realize that it makes sense because cats practically do the same thing at home already! We spend our hard earned money on buying little Mittens crinkly tunnels, 6 story condos covered with brown and tan carpet, and fishing pole toys that encourage your cat to leap and run. The Cat Fanciers Association came up with this idea about five years ago in Oregon. “Some cats take to the course like a duck to water, and have it down pat when it comes to running through tunnels and jumping through hoops. Others, though, seem to be more curious about the course, and will thoroughly inspect each obstacle before even thinking about tackling it,” they say.
Course completion times come between a few seconds to 15 minutes depending on how curious the cat competitor is, although the maximum time to run the course without being disqualified is 3 minutes. Timed runs are scored faults first, then time. Therefore a slow, accurate run around the ring would beat a fast, sloppy run with multiple faults. The course can start with any obstacle and the time starts when the cat’s front feet touch or pass through or over the first obstacle. Time ends when the cat’s front feet touch the floor after clearing the last obstacle.  Some faults are: the handler knocking down an obstacle or jump, the cat going into or over the wrong obstacle out of course sequence, cat refusal to complete an obstacle and bypassing it, and stopping more then 10 seconds once the run has started.
Cats can also be disqualified from the competition, but that is mostly by the discretion of the Agility Official. All of the competitions are held in jumbo cages so the cats can’t escape. According to the ICAT association, the official association of International Cat Agility Tournaments, “Good agility cats have the qualities to make happy, healthy companion cats. The most successful cats in agility will love to play, have an outgoing personality, and be in excellent physical condition. An agility course is like a playground to a cat.” The ICAT association says that your cat is ready for agility if they are: self confident, motivated, athletic, trained, and at the right age. They also advise that if you really want to go into agility with your cat you should start young. Now that you know all this, do you think that your cat is ready for agility?
Cat Agility! Yes! I salute whoever decided that this week Monterey county would discover cat agility by writing an article for the Herald newspapers. I myself have known about it for a few years but have been too young to qualify as a handler. I have one very high energy cat and I regret not getting her into something like this. Personally I feel that cats are a little bit under appreciated. Every time I see the Westminster Dog Show on the TV I complain. Sometimes, I get so bad that my parents have to send me out of the room. The truth of the matter is, cats not only have cat shows but these agility competitions too! But, does the media cover them? No! Last year I went to my first cat show at the Monterey Fair Grounds, it is an experience I will never forget. One day I’ll be a competitor in one of those shows and one day I will lead my cat around an agility ring too. I will show those dog lovers what we cat lovers are made of!

  • Informational Website, ICAT,web address:
  •  “Who Knew? Cats Dig Agility Contests Too!” 1/29/10, The Orange County Register, wed address:
  • “Cat’s on course for agility competitions”, 2/2/10, The Monterey County Herald

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