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Wow, that was FAST…. FastCat

May 25, 2021

I wrote this for one one the FastCat Social Media groups as folks were always asking about how to get started in FastCat. I think I will do a post for each of the Dog Sports to help explain to those who have either never done it or seen it themselves. Plus I will be able to find it to share when needed.

So FastCat 101

What and How to FastCat:

I am not an expert but I am running Bailey and Cali and they working on their FCats (top award) and JeffJeff is just starting out and I have Bailey who has earned her CAX in CAT tests which is a coursing course, so I have been to lots of lure tests. Here is some information if you have never done it before.

FastCat is basically a timed 100 yard dash. It is run with timers at the start and finish and is run in a lane that is typically fenced with snow fencing. I am sure there are places with different types of fencing but what you will see in the photos in this post is orange or blue snow fencing. Just for information CAT or Coursing Aptitude Test is where dogs chase a lure on an open course 300 to 600 yards depending on the size/breed of the dog, it is a different sport.

JeffJeff at his first puppy run

First of all there are generally no “classes” for FastCat, there are some locations that have practice runs at their facility but overall you are not going to find a FastCat class. There are things you can do to get your dog excited about chasing the “bunny”, by using a plastic bag on a flirt pole or to a radio car and see if your dog wants to chase it. If your dog LOOOVVVEESS you and will run really fast on a recall you can get times on that too. All of that means you don’t have to do any of the above, you can just show up and give it a try it. Some club have fun runs available but why not do the real thing? Of course unless it is a puppy run. Dogs have to be at least 12 months old to run the real thing.

FastCat is very popular so the first thing you need to do is find out what clubs are offering the test. You can join various club social media pages but all of the approved events will be on the Events page on akc.org. You can filter what works for you and then you can make plans to enter. Be aware they can fill up fast. There is usually a discount for pre entry and a higher price for day off entry (if there are any runs available. Measure your dog so that you can enter with the right Handicap (small, medium and large dogs have a different handicap).

Bailey Haulin’

Once you have an entry the club will give details about when and how to show up. Most clubs have 2 opportunities to run each day so you can plan to run twice each day. Each time you run is a separate entry (and fee). Lots of times you will have the opportunity to run in time blocks. Some people like to run back to back in the same time block or they want to space them out. It all depends on you and your dog.

What do you need? You and your dog. You should have 2 leads, slip leads work great. Your dog can run with a collar but the tags should be removed. You can release and catch with harnesses but your dog can’t run in a harness. You should make sure you have what you need for you and your dog to be comfortable while waiting your turn. Make sure you have water for your dog. Bring a chair, shade, snacks, whatever will make the day better. Running multiple dogs extends the time you are at the event.

Once you arrive you will check in and will do the soundness check. I call it the walk and wipe, all female dogs regardless of their reproductive status need to be wiped to check to make sure they are not in season. All dogs will walk for the checker to make sure they are sound. Lame dogs and girls in season cannot run. Your dog will do the soundness check before ever run (even if you just ran).

Once you are checked in you will be assigned a place in line. Please don’t be THAT person, pay attention and go when it is your turn. If you have a high prey drive dog recognize that and take action to protect your dog and others. FastCat gets dogs amped up and even normally calm dogs can be FastCat jerks. Watch your dog!

Run Cali Run!

If you didn’t bring a friend make sure you know who is going to release/catch before you get to the line. The club should have let you know if there is club member to help or if you need to round up your own help. There are normally folks available to help as everyone one is there to have a good time with their dog.
Should you release or catch? A good rule of thumb is whoever the dog loves the most should catch but it is all about you and your dog. FastCat is built for successful runs. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Cathy has to Hold On to Bailey, she loves to run

Be patient! Everyone will get a turn. Equipment breaks, dogs play keep away, lure needs reset, weather goes wonky, timers don’t time and yes the lure operator might need to go potty! Be a good sport and if you can’t be a good sport then don’t enter.

You got your chance to run and you got a time. The club will give you a Q ribbon and your time. If they don’t calculate your points then you can use the formula to figure them out. The time is converted to Miles Per Hour (MPH). FORMULA: 204.545 / RUN TIME = MPH MPH X HANDICAP = POINTS (ROUNDED TO NEAREST 0.01) Based on the dog’s size at the withers, a handicap is applied and points are earned: 18” or greater = Handicap is 1.0 • 12” up to less than 18” = Handicap is 1.5 and 12” and under = Handicap is 2.
You need 150 points for the BCAT title, 500 for DCAT and 1000 for FCAT (the letters don’t mean anything) and the point accumulate so you start with 150 points toward your DCAT after you finish the BCAT. Most clubs give nice title ribbons so if that is import to you plan accordingly.

There is a ranking by breed and speed that can be found at https://www.apps.akc.org/apps/fastcat_ranking/

Cali’s DCat Ribbon (and some Barnhunt from the same weekend)

So lots of words, but I keep seeing the same questions so I thought I would write something up. I am sure there will be people who have other words to add, but this is a start.

It is ok to share. And remember this fun, not world peace.

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