Trevor Turner, B. Vet. Med., MRCVS
First published in September/October 2006 Edition
In the March/April issue I wrote about veterinary involvement with cat and dog shows and tried to answer the rhetorical question: Why is there still mandatory vetting-in at cat shows and yet this was discarded with dog shows years ago? The piece hopefully provided a brief, accurate, history of veterinary involvement with both cat and dog shows.
I then concluded the piece explaining that the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, perhaps more avant garde than the Kennel Club, acknowledged the efficacy of feline enteritis and cat flu vaccines very early on and made vaccination mandatory for acceptance of an entry for a show, but unlike the Kennel Club did not dispense with the mandatory vetting-in of all exhibits prior to entry to a show whereas, to this day, canine vaccination is not mandatory at KC sponsored shows and there is no vetting-in!
Continuing on the recapitulation route I then explained that this is basically due to the fact that cats can harbour potentially extremely serious immunosuppressant viruses, the canine counterparts of which have, to date, not been isolated.
Is this, then, the reason why every exhibit at a GCCF-controlled cat show has to undergo mandatory vetting-in? Well, it is certainly one of the reasons for vetting-in but not by any means the only one. Vets officiating at shows held under GCCF licence must follow specific guidelines issued by the Governing Council. It starts by explaining that you must attend at a suitable time to examine every exhibit before it is permitted to enter the show hall. Furthermore, the show manager, or in the case of larger shows, the veterinary organiser, is issued with specific guidelines to ensure there are enough `vetting-in’ vets available so that all the entries can be seen by the vet ready for judging, usually by 10am. Two hours are usually allocated for vetting-in but with large shows exhibits are admitted from about 7.30 a.m. or even earlier. If there are enough vets this means that about two minutes a cat is allocated, from which you will gather that this is not intended to be a thorough clinical veterinary examination. This can be difficult for newly-qualified veterinary surgeons, keen to become involved, but who in their emerging careers have had it hammered home that `instant’ diagnosis can result in disaster and they should never hurry a clinical examination.
The difference is, of course, that at vetting-in it is not a clinical examination but a veterinary inspection and if the vetting-in vet’s suspicions are alerted by anything, the decision-maker is the duty vet whose signature has to appear on any rejection slips. Within that 2 - 3 minutes the cat is passing through the vet’s hands and eyes; time also has to be allocated to examine the vaccination certificate to make sure it is correct, up to date, and refers to the cat being examined. This I find often takes longer than the actual veterinary inspection despite the fact that show personnel help as much as they can by requesting that each exhibitor, at the time they pick up their envelopes containing passes, etc, ensure they have their vaccination certificate to hand so that time is not lost while it is searched for at the vet’s table. The show manager has to ensure that GCCF section 5 rules concerning veterinary duties are available to every vet at the show.