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The History of Fast CAT and Its Rise in Popularity

Fast CAT (Coursing Ability Test) is a relatively new sport in the realm of canine competitions, designed to test a dog’s speed and agility in a straightforward, engaging way. This sport has rapidly gained popularity among dog enthusiasts and pet owners alike, offering a unique blend of athleticism and fun for dogs of all breeds and sizes.

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How Fast CAT Started

Fast CAT was born out of a desire to create an inclusive and accessible sport for all dogs, regardless of their breed or size. Its inception can be traced back to the innovative minds at the American Kennel Club (AKC), who sought to expand the appeal of canine competitions beyond traditional lure coursing, which was primarily designed for sighthound breeds.

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In the early 2010s, the AKC recognized a growing interest among dog owners for a sport that could highlight their pets’ speed and agility in a straightforward manner. Traditional lure coursing, while thrilling, was limited to specific breeds known for their chasing and hunting prowess. The AKC envisioned a new kind of event that could cater to a broader audience and allow any dog to participate, thus fostering a more inclusive environment.

To bring this vision to life, the AKC embarked on a pilot program to test the feasibility and appeal of the Fast CAT concept. The sport’s design was simple: dogs would chase a lure over a 100-yard straight course, with their times recorded and converted to miles per hour. This simplicity ensured that dog owners could easily understand and engage with the sport without the need for extensive training or specialized equipment.

The pilot program was a resounding success, demonstrating that Fast CAT could attract a wide range of participants and generate significant enthusiasm. Encouraged by the positive feedback and high levels of participation, the AKC officially introduced Fast CAT in 2016. The sport quickly gained traction, with events being held across the United States and dog owners eagerly signing up to test their pets’ speed.

The Format of Fast CAT​

Fast CAT’s format, while straightforward, offers an adrenaline-pumping experience for both dogs and their owners. Here’s a more detailed look at how the sport is structured:

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Course Layout

The Fast CAT course is a 100-yard straight track. This design is intentional to ensure that dogs can run at their maximum speed without any obstacles or turns. The course is typically set up on a flat, grassy field to provide a safe running surface for the dogs.

The Lure

At the heart of the race is the lure—usually a plastic bag or a similar object. The lure is attached to a mechanized pulley system that moves it rapidly down the track. The sight of the moving lure triggers the dog’s natural chase instinct, prompting them to sprint after it at full speed.

Timing Mechanism

The race begins when the dog crosses the start line and ends when they cross the finish line. Precise timing equipment, often including electronic timing gates, ensures accurate measurement of each dog’s run. The time taken for the dog to cover the 100-yard distance is recorded in seconds.

Speed Calculation

Once the dog’s time is recorded, it is converted into miles per hour (MPH). This conversion allows for a standardized measure of speed that can be easily compared across different runs and events. The formula for this conversion is straightforward: the distance (100 yards) divided by the time taken (in seconds), then converted to MPH.

Ranking and Scoring

Each dog’s speed is then ranked based on its breed. This breed-specific ranking is crucial as it accounts for the natural differences in speed and size among various breeds. For instance, a Greyhound’s speed would be compared against other Greyhounds, while a Chihuahua’s speed would be ranked against other Chihuahuas.

Rules and Scoring in Fast CAT

Fast CAT’s scoring system is designed to encourage continuous participation and improvement, providing an engaging framework for dog owners and their pets. Here’s a detailed look at how the rules and scoring work:

Timing and Speed Calculation

The primary metric for scoring in Fast CAT is the speed at which the dog runs the 100-yard course. The timing starts when the dog crosses the start line and stops when the dog crosses the finish line. This time is then converted to miles per hour (MPH) using the formula:

Speed (MPH)=(100 yardsTime (seconds))×(36001760)

This conversion ensures a standardized measure of speed for all participating dogs.

Breed-Specific Ranking

To ensure fair competition, dogs are ranked within their breed categories. This breed-specific ranking accounts for the natural differences in speed and agility among various breeds. For example, a Whippet’s speed will be compared against other Whippets, while a Poodle’s speed will be ranked among other Poodles. This system recognizes the unique capabilities of each breed, promoting a level playing field.

Cumulative Points System

Dogs earn points based on their speed in each run. The cumulative points from multiple runs determine the dog’s progress toward achieving titles. The point system is structured to reward consistent performance and improvement over time. Here’s how it works:

  • BCAT (Basic Coursing Ability Test): This title is awarded to dogs that achieve a cumulative score that typically reflects a speed range of 15-25 MPH. It recognizes dogs that demonstrate solid speed and performance across multiple runs.

  • DCAT (Dynamic Coursing Ability Test): This title is for dogs that achieve higher cumulative scores, reflecting speeds over 25 MPH. Dogs that earn the DCAT title are recognized for their exceptional speed and consistency.

Each run contributes to the dog’s total points, encouraging owners to participate in multiple events and strive for continual improvement.

Rise in Popularity Of Fast CAT

Since its introduction, Fast CAT has seen a significant rise in popularity. Several factors have contributed to this growth:

  1. Inclusivity: Unlike many canine sports that are breed-specific, Fast CAT welcomes all dogs, making it accessible to a larger community of dog owners.

  2. Simplicity: The straightforward nature of the sport—chasing a lure in a straight line—makes it easy for newcomers to understand and participate without extensive training or preparation.

  3. Fun and Fitness: Fast CAT provides an enjoyable way for dogs to exercise and burn off energy. It also fosters a fun, competitive spirit among participants, strengthening the bond between dogs and their owners.

  4. Community and Events: Fast CAT events often create a vibrant community atmosphere, where dog owners can socialize, share tips, and celebrate their pets’ achievements. These events are frequently held alongside other canine activities, making them attractive for families and spectators.

  5. Media and Online Presence: The rise of social media and online platforms has played a crucial role in promoting Fast CAT. Videos and photos of dogs participating in Fast CAT races often go viral, drawing more attention and interest to the sport.


Fast CAT has quickly established itself as a beloved sport in the dog world, thanks to its inclusivity, simplicity, and the joy it brings to both dogs and their owners. As the sport continues to grow, it promises to remain a staple in canine competitions, celebrating the speed, agility, and enthusiasm of dogs everywhere. Whether you’re a seasoned competitor or a new dog owner looking for a fun activity, Fast CAT offers a thrilling and rewarding experience for all involved.

Fast CAT (Coursing Ability Test) is generally safe for dogs when appropriate precautions are taken. The events are held on grassy fields to provide a soft running surface and are enclosed to prevent dogs from running off course. Before participating, dogs should undergo a veterinary check to ensure they are healthy and fit, and they should gradually build their fitness level. Organizers schedule events considering weather conditions to prevent heat-related issues, provide water stations for hydration, and use safe lures. Trained handlers and staff supervise the events, and owners are responsible for their dogs’ well-being before, during, and after the run. Post-run care, including cooling down and monitoring for signs of discomfort, is essential to ensure the dogs’ safety and enjoyment.

Lure coursing and Fast CAT are distinct dog sports, primarily differing in course design and participant eligibility. Lure coursing involves a looping, curving track that mimics the unpredictability of chasing live prey, typically catering to sighthound breeds. In contrast, Fast CAT features a straight 100-yard dash focused solely on speed, and it is inclusive of all dog breeds and mixed breeds, making it accessible to a wider range of participants.

In Fast CAT, a handicap is a system used to level the playing field by accounting for the size of the dog, ensuring fair competition among different breeds. The handicap is based on the dog’s height at the withers (the highest point of the shoulders). The American Kennel Club (AKC) defines the handicap system as follows:

  1. Small Dogs: For dogs shorter than 12 inches at the withers, their actual speed is multiplied by 2.0.
  2. Medium Dogs: For dogs measuring between 12 and 18 inches at the withers, their actual speed is multiplied by 1.5.
  3. Large Dogs: For dogs taller than 18 inches at the withers, their actual speed remains the same with a multiplier of 1.0.

This handicap system adjusts the final speed calculation, allowing dogs of different sizes to compete more equitably by compensating for the natural speed differences between small, medium, and large breeds.

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