SHE’LL BE THE JUDGE: Sherry Love, the cat show judge at the 2014 Jefferson County 4-H Fair, talks to  Gibson James, 9, of the Homegrown 4-H Club, about her feline “Boo-Boo” on Wednesday. Love has been a judge at county fairs for more than a decade. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
SHE’LL BE THE JUDGE: Sherry Love, the cat show judge at the 2014 Jefferson County 4-H Fair, talks to Gibson James, 9, of the Homegrown 4-H Club, about her feline “Boo-Boo” on Wednesday. Love has been a judge at county fairs for more than a decade. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
No animal is purr-fect, but it's up to 4-H judges to determine the best of the best at the Jefferson County 4-H Fair.

4-H Cat Show judge Sherry Love of Dearborn County, is one of several judges from around Indiana who is judging animal shows this year. This isn't her first time judging at the Jefferson County fair. Jefferson County is one of the first fairs she judged at nearly 14 years ago.

"Some of the kids you get to see grow up," Love said.

She remembers her own children participating in the kiddie pedal pull when they were smaller. Now she gets to see 4-Hers and their animal projects progress through the organization.

Love doesn't attend the Jefferson County Fair as a judge each year, she said, but she does come often enough to remember some of the participants.

She usually judges at three or four county fairs in Indiana each year - but she has a long history with 4-H.

Love grew up participating in 4-H and showing her own cat. She figured out that judges were looking for cleanliness, health and personality.

After her own 4-H career, she continued to work with the organization. Her mother has served as a cat show judge, so judging was something she was familiar with.

Eventually, Love's children began to participate in 4-H too. Her son carried on the family tradition and began participating in the cat show as well.

Her son found a kitten at the side of the road which he showed as a 4-H project for years before retiring the animal due to age.

While some of the cats shown in 4-H are purebred, most aren't. "Some people bring in their cats from the barn," Love said.

That's okay as long as the animal has been taken care of, is healthy and ready for the show.

The 4-H cat shows usually have classes based on the age level of the 4-H member and short-hair or long-hair categories.

Love looks to make sure the cat's ears and teeth are cleaned, and she checks for evidence of fleas and sickness.

A cat's personality plays into the judge's scoring.

"You can have a great cat at home, but it's a little different here," she said.

Love usually shows up early to most of her shows, just to see how 4-H participants are interacting with their projects.

She was pleased to see rows of seats in the community building at the fairgrounds filled before the show. Some of the other shows have only had three or four participants this year, she said.

"I was really glad to see a larger number (of participants)," Love said, noting cat shows usually have more children because of the animals' size. "It's not like a big livestock animal. You can bring in the family pet."