July 2008 Issue

All the Rage: Feline Agility

Agility events are now being offered at many cat shows — and all you need is a willing cat and some training to participate.

The large, bobtailed cat was racing through the agility course so quickly that his owner could barely keep up to direct him. Running up and down ramps, leaping through a suspended hoop, darting in and out of weave poles, the pixie-bob had speed. And then, the cat stopped. He was at the last jump and his owner wasn’t. "He looked up at her and seemed to say, ‘You want me to jump through this, right?’" recounts Susan Lee, a breeder of Havana browns and Maine coon cats in Okemos, Michigan. The cat must have received the signal he was waiting for, because he sailed over the last jump — still well before his handler had caught up with him. Agility, which has been tremendously popular with dogs since the 1980s, is beginning to catch on with cat owners. The first exhibitions of agility for cats were held in 2003 by the International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT). Within a year, member clubs of The International Cat Association (TICA) were adding ICAT agility competitions to their show lists. Today, cat agility competitions can be found at both TICA and Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc. (CFA) shows — complete with awards for adult cats, kittens and junior handlers, as well as opportunities to garner placement points toward several different levels of agility titles.

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