Nougat Earns His Grand of Distinction, Adventures in CFA

It all started with pictures of an adorable RagaMuffin litter. After having purchased a pet RagaMuffin from Kathy Hyneman of Kaerik Rags two years previously, I had decided I wanted to try my hand at showing a cat. They were all beautiful. Kathy pointed me to the silver classic tabby male. There was something special about that kitten.  Not only did he excel in breed type, his personality simply stood out.

After much debate, I named him Nougat. Kathy and I always debate over name choices. I think mine are great; she generally disagrees. She did what good breeders do, socialized him and got him used to nail clips and bathing to prep him for a show career.  Kaerik Canterbury Nougat eventually came home with me. I was excited to start this new venture.

Nougat’s first show was an ACFA show in Florida with his breeder. I was over the moon when I learned he ended up high scoring kitten in show. I couldn’t wait to start showing him in CFA.

Meanwhile, I got needed encouragement and support from a veteran of CFA, Diane Castor. I knew Diane’s daughter from showing Labradors. Diane is a retired successful breeder and exhibitor of gorgeous Himalayans. Her help was invaluable in meeting people at the shows and learning the ropes.

It’s been an adventure with Nougat. Showing him as kitten, I learned how to groom. (actually, that is an ongoing process.) I learned that one does not take the ribbons the judge puts on your cat’s cage in class judging.  The ring clerk had to chase me down at the first show.  When Nougat graduated to Championship, he was a two show grand. I didn’t know that was a big deal. I haven’t had a two show grand since. He became a Breed Winner when I didn’t know what that was!

Nougat went on to breed a handful of litters at Kaerik Rags. Then he was neutered and graduated to Premiership. Somewhere in that period, I developed the penchant of dressing the poor cat in outfits at shows. Nougat, the epitome of patience, would sit on his grooming table dressed as Santa, a pumpkin or a myriad of other characters and allow spectators and other exhibitors to photograph him.

Nougat was a two show Grand Premier. I continued to show him, learning about Regional Wins. I made friends like Jim and Teresa Land, Pam Rutan, Sharyn Hauck and others while working toward his first RW. Spending the day at a show was and is a social experience for me. It’s always more fun to win, but if I have to lose, I want to do it in the company of friends!

RagaMuffin people were always supportive of Nougat. The first time Amy Gryga/Miller, a fellow member of The RagaMuffin Kitten Breeders Society saw Nougat, she declared that she was in the presence of a rock star. I didn’t realize how famous he had become. When contacted by some people in the breed who didn’t know me, they would say, “oh, you have NOUGAT?” RagaMuffin breeders from afar like Sonya Erickson and Lynda Jay  rooted for Nougat’s every accomplishment.

After Nougat’s first Regional Win, I continued to show him as well as RagaMuffins that followed him.  I met more people that accepted me into the cat fancy. I found fellow veterinarians that were showing cats! Noelle Giddings, Betsy Arnold, and Kathleen Doyle all welcomed me into the fold. I continued to learn more about grooming; people like Dan Kern answered every question

As Nougat’s career progressed, the judges got to know him as the cat that doesn’t do much. Other than a slow motion stretch up the pole, he just sat there, usually watching the spectators. Animation was never his strong point. He liked to look around. A bomb could go off and he would continue sitting there. Along the way he won over a number of judges. More than once, a judge would state that they had never finaled a RagaMuffin until they saw him. Other judges told me they had been against the breed getting championship status, but seeing him, they “got” the breed. One judge commented that he had raised the bar for all RagaMuffins. Not all judges were a fan. I knew that and accepted it as part of the game. I appreciate the judges that were encouraging and supportive. I won’t name names, but I am pretty sure they know who they are.

He earned his third Regional Win this season. At the Delaware River Cats show with friends Robin Rommel and Mary Venable present, Nougat earned his Grand of Distinction.   People at the show were wonderful. So many were rooting for him to get the last all breed final he needed. When his number was called in Ken Currle’s ring, I cried. Really, I did. I took my beautiful boy proudly up to the ring. Clerk Linda Bartley knew what this meant to me and told the judge of Nougat’s achievement. The judge kindly took Nougat out and announced his achievement. I was thrilled.

GC GP RW BW Kaerik Canterbury Nougat is retired now. Honestly, I think he will miss the shows. I’m not sure he will miss the hats I had him wear, but who knows? It was quite a journey. I read on the CFA lists how miserable people are sometimes. I am not a Pollyanna by any means, but honestly, spending a day or a weekend with friends and a special cat or two is a privilege. It should be enjoyed and appreciated.