1. The goal is for the cat and person to have a POSITIVE experience.
2. Is the cat ready?
Give the cat about 5 minutes of “walking around time” to investigate everything.
Cats need to feel safe before they will play.
When the tail goes up in the “happy cat” position, the cat is ready. This is so important that ICAT's blog is titled, "Tails Up."
If the cat is terrified, or frantically tries to escape, ask the owner to remove it.
Say something positive about each cat. This is a requirement to be a competent Ringmaster.
Never criticize a cat. It is not the cat's fault. It is always the owner, not the cat.
3. Is the owner ready?
The owner must remove their shoes before entering the ring. (It would be nice to have a contest the most colorful, happy socks, because after seeing hundreds of socks, I know most are boring solids.)
Importantly, every owner entering the ring needs to be reminded every time of these two things:
- There is no pressure to perform (they can sit on the floor and kiss their cat the whole time, if they want to)
- The cat must have its TAIL UP before any training starts, after exploring the ring.
Ringmasters will stay these two things a hundred times per weekend, but they are essential!
Every cat agility course is different. Every competition is independent of the others. There is no national scoring.
Timing is done with a stopwatch. Clean runs count. A clean run is defined as navigating every obstacle the way we want (like over the hurdle, instead of under it).
Note: it is okay, and encouraged, for cats to figure out better-faster-easier ways of doing the obstacles. This is unique to cat agility. Cats are exceptionally good at Insight learning, which is problem solving ability. So, for instance, it is terrific if they jump three hurdles in a row with one gigantic leap.
We do not want cat agility to try and make cats take orders like dogs do, because cats are not pack animals with a pack master. Cats are colony animals; they have grooming buddies, and friends.
Resist the urge to tell people how to do everything with their cat! Let them have the joy of discovering how to communicate and work with their cat. Some light instruction is okay. Limit your instructions and intensity. Allow people to have a good time.
Ringmasters need to WATCH the cat in the ring at all times. And the owner.
The Ringmaster is the boss. If someone is acting without kindness towards a cat, they need to be excused immediately from the agility ring.
The Ringmaster also needs to keep the obstacles aligned and organized. They are lightweight for safety because people, especially children, bump into them, much more than the cats do.
The course needs to be cleaned after each cat. Wipe it manually with baby wipes (which involves a lot of bending over), or with a Swiffer WetJet. The WetJet solutions are completely safe for cats, according to Consumer Reports, Veterinarians, ASPCA, and other authorities.
Pick up the little bits of toys, bracelets, and other things dropped by owners in the ring.
7. Before the show
The "TICA Marketing & Business Development– 2017 Corporate Sponsorship Questionnaire" on the TICA website. It must be completed before show, so you can get ICAT brought to your show and prize money.
If you would like to be included on the list of Ringmasters, please email us with your contact information and , experience.
Please share your experiences with us. We would love to hear your stories and ideas, to share with everyone.