Can my dog do fast CAT? How do I find fast cat events? Where do I sign up for fast cat training?
I have 2 mix breed dogs and I love doing dog sports, this might sound crazy if you’re just a regular pet parent. You thinking of me jogging around a show ring… with a mixed breed. But that’s not it at all (and no we don’t do that). Dog sports is much more than showing, it’s scent work, it’s finding rats, it’s agility, it’s tricks and so much more.
I love dog sports for many reasons. It gives me such a greater connection with my dog, it helps me learn more about them and their body language, it improves my training, but most of all my dogs love it, more than anything. Dog sports are also a great way for your dog to do some of their favorite things they were breed to do like sniffing and running – and a lot of these sports are accessible to the less active or pet parents with limitations… don’t worry we aren’t running in this sport, just our dogs.
Rossi’s favorite is called Fast CAT and that’s what we are going to discuss below. And let me make it clear, Rossi loves food, kissing and fast CAT, it’s an obsession. Below we are going to discuss everything Fast CAT from what it is, how to sign up, how to find events and more!
What is Fast CAT?
Fast CAT is basically a 100-yard dash where your dog runs in a straight line chasing a lure aka a fake ‘bunny’ that looks like a plastic bag/pom pom. Dogs race one at a time on an inclosed track.
My dog’s run off leash a lot, while hiking, at the barn, etc but I can’t think of a time they get to run a straight 100-yards as fast as they can possible imagine … and combine that with the drive of chasing something moving. Of course he loves it and so do his dog friends.
And in case you’re wondering – no cats are involved. Fast CAT stands for Fast Coursing Ability Test.
What dogs can do Fast CAT?
Any healthy dog can do fast cat as long as they fall into the parameters below.
- Your dog must be at least a year of age
- Female unaltered dogs must not be in heat (see our what to expect section below)
- Your dog must not show lameness when jogging (trotting for my horse friends)
- Your dog must have an AKC number (see section below).
And yes, mixed breed dogs can do fast cat. Yes, there will be a lot of purebred dogs there but my friends and I have been very welcomed by the groups putting on the events and other attendees with our mixed breed dogs. So don’t hesitate or feel you won’t fit in. There is a wide range of dogs, from tiny toy dogs, to bassett hounds and corgis, to mixed breeds, pit bulls, mastiffs and of course the speedy breeds like greyhounds which I encourage you to watch in awe of and cheer each and every dog on too.
Reactive dogs can also do fast cat, they are racing in an enclosed area – usually soft netting – so if you think your dog will want to charge through this then maybe it’s not the sport for you. But otherwise it’s very welcoming to reactive dogs as there are no other dogs allowed in when your dog is racing, an amazing way for reactive dogs to run and have some fun too!
Dog’s that are missing a limb, like tri-pod dogs are able to do fast CAT as well, of course consult with your veterinarian to see if this something they advise your dog to do.
Where do I sign up for fast CAT training?
This is a common question and the good news is most dogs do not need any training at all for fast cat. If you are very worried some places offer something called Dash Dogs, this is not an AKC sport but it’s great for practicing as it’s done at half the distance; but this definitely isn’t required.
A lot of dogs will want to naturally chase the lure, my dog actually doesn’t have a prey drive at all and after three runs of Fast CAT he now goes crazy to chase it but not anything else (which is great). Instead for his first few runs I stood at the end where you catch your dog and I yelled like a maniac, squeaked toys and jumped up and down. My dog knew to run to me and now he runs cause he absolutely loves this sport.
How to register your dog with AKC
Lastly, don’t forget to register for AKC. It’s pretty simple, there are three different types of registrations and you can complete it online.
It will ask for your dogs full name, this is the name that will be on certificates, etc. This also can’t be the name of another dog registered, so it probably can’t be just “Max” or ‘Bella”. You can be creative!
The three types of registration and links to register:
AKC Registration – this for AKC recognized purebred breeds
AKC Canine partners – this is for mixed breed dogs, our shelter dogs, the doodles, the heinz57’s, etc. Dogs with this registration are required to be spayed/neutered and not a wolf hybrid.
AKC Purebred Alternative listing (PAL) – this is for purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered with the AKC to participate in AKC events. Dogs with this registration are required to be spayed/neutered.
How to find fast CAT trials
The easiest way to find trials near you is via the AKC Website. Note, I usually do this on the desktop as I find it easier to click everything.
- Visit this link to search AKC events
- On the left under Performance events click Fast CAT (FCAT)
- On the map, click your state.
- Scroll down and adjust your date range
- Click ‘retrieve events’
- You will see a list of events like below…
What does all this mean?
- The name in bold: in this case, Ventura County Scent Work Club, is the club putting on the trial
- Opens: Means the date you can start to register, some of these fill up fast, so it’s a good idea to take note of this.
- Closes: If it has a close date that means the last date to enter; if the event isn’t full.
- Eligible breeds: Lists of breeds able to compete, All American Dogs means mixed breeds or those with Canine partners registration.
- View Complete event details: is where you’ll get more info on the event and sometimes links to the page to enter, if not just look up the club’s website and you should be able to enter via there.
Now that you know how to find event’s let’s go over the sign-up process!
How to sign up for Fast CAT
You’ll start on the club’s website and find their sign up form.
You will need to know your dog’s AKC # from signing up before, you can also log into your AKC account to find it.
You will also need to know your dogs height at the withers (their shoulders on their back, behind their head), it’s important you are in the right group as this effects your points.
The height groups are 18” and up, 12-18”, and below 12”.
You can sign up for up to two runs per day – this is to keep our pets safe and not over run them. You can sign up for multiple days though.
Lastly, if you have a mixed breed dog/Canine partners than your dog breeds will always be All American Dog, yes I know Rossi is a Cavapoochon, no one cares – by AKC rules you have an All American Dog.
With that information you should be able to successfully sign up and get yourselves ready for your FastCAT trial!
Now let’s go over what to bring with you!
What to bring to your fast CAT trial
You only need a few things for your actual trial – of course make sure you are signed up
And that’s it! Time for the trial….
What to expect at a fast CAT trial
- When you arrive you’ll want to locate the sign up table, hint there is probably a line of people at it.
- Walk over to this with your dog – This is the part that may be a little harder for reactive dog’s either have a friend hold your dog till it’s your turn or remind everyone nearby your dog needs some extra space.
- They will ask for your name/dogs name and check you in. You then will need to jog your dog a few steps so they can confirm there is no lameness.
- If you have a female dog they will have you take a tissue and wipe your dog’s private area to confirm your dog isn’t in heat – even if your dog is spayed. Yes, it’s a little strange but no ones judging you.
- They will give you a sticker that the person releasing your dog will wear. The catcher doesn’t need a sticker.
- The person releasing your dog then gets in line near the start of the track and the catcher (aka the one the dog will run fastest too) heads to the end – don’t forget your extra leash. Do not wait till it’s your dogs turn to make it down there. It’s 100 yards away and you can NOT walk down the track, it’s against AKC rules, so it can be a bit of a walk. Fast CAT runs quickly and if they are waiting on you they won’t be happy. I generally head down when there are at least four dogs to go in front of mine.
- The releaser will be let into the track with your dog and will stay back, the person running the start will ask if you’re ready, “yes!” Once you say yes they will say or yell “tallyho!” Once that is yelled it’s go time! Just release your dog, stay quiet so your dog can focus on the catcher yelling and not want to stay with you.
- For the person catching the dog you’ll wait at the finish and they announce which dog is next. When it’s your dog’s turn they will let you inside the track. As soon as I’m in there I start screaming my dogs name! Like a maniac! If it’s your dogs first time this is super important, as he doesn’t know where you went or what is expected of him. After about three times of doing this Rossi doesn’t need me to yell he’s super excited when he see’s the “bunny” going but I still yell and call and encourage him to run faster and faster.
- Times are usually posted in the next day or two by the club putting on the event.
How do I get a ribbon?
Your dog gets a ribbon a few ways in fast CAT…
They get a qualifying ribbon if they finish the 100-yard dash, the blue ribbons in the above photo! That also means if your dog turns around and doesn’t go to the end, no ribbon unfortunately.
Next, when your dog runs you are given their speed in MPH and their points. Usually this is given a day or two after. Ready to do some math? Just kidding it’s easy and your dog’s time to complete the 100 yard dash is converted into MPHs by the event. A handicap system is applied to a dog’s MPH to determine the number of points earned. The handicap system is based on the height of the dog at its withers:
- 18”or greater = handicap is 1.0.
- 12” up to less than 18” = handicap is 1.5.
- Below 12” = handicap is 2.0.
Your points is the MPH multiplied by the dog’s handicap, in most cases they will give you your dogs points and your dogs MPH’s, I love to keep track of both over time.
Rossi’s last trial he ran two runs.
- 19.61 MPH = 29.42 points
- 20.81 MPH = 30.08 points
So his points for the whole day was 59.5
Once you reach a certain amount of points you can win big ribbons and a title!!!
Fast CAT titles are earned at designated milestones:
- BCAT = 150 points
- DCAT = 500 points
- FCAT = 1,000 points
- FCAT# = every additional 500 points
Once your dog earns a title it also gets added on to their official name. Rossi’s current name in AKC is Rossi Bear SWN TKA BCAT – which represent scent work title, a trick title and a fast cat title!
I highly recommend keeping your own track of your dogs points as well, they also are updated on your AKC account online. By keeping track you can sort of tell which event your dog will get a title at (should they finish).
How to calculate your dog’s Fast CAT time?
If you want to double check the math here is how to calculate your dogs Fast CAT MPH’s.
You will do 204.545 / (dogs time) = MPH. AND then to get your AKC points you’ll multiple it by your dogs handicap in the above section (1, 1.5 or 2).
So if your dog runs the 100 yrd dash in 9 seconds you’ll do 204.545 divided by 9 and get 22.727 MPH rounded up to 22.73 mph.
I hope this helps you and your dog get started in Fast CAT and lots of other dog sports! Have questions or need help? Please let me know below!