You may not believe your eyes when you see a cat hop on a skateboard and ride it down a ramp. Or when you see cats walking a high wire or repelling down a rope, or even playing in a band. But this isn’t some pass-along Internet video created by an imaginative animator – these amazing cats are performing live on stage.
Animal trainer Samantha Martin had been training all kinds of animals for commercials, TV, and film. She had been training cats at home for about 10 years when Tuna came into her life. Tuna was brilliant and would work anywhere. Samantha trained Tuna to do 16 different cat tricks. Samantha knew dogs performed in front of live audiences, so she wondered why no one tried it with cats.
She soon got her answer. “You have to have a lot of humility to put cats on a stage,” she says. But she continued training cats and put together the show, Acro-Cats and a small musical group, The Rock Cats, featuring a piano cat, drummer and guitarist.
“The music stinks, to be honest,” Samantha says. “The drummer has no rhythm. The guitar player is always off pitch. The piano player is in her own world.” However, the cats are actually playing the instruments. They don’t play any cover songs, only their own “music” (kind of like Nora the Piano Cat!)
These amazing cats travel in a 28-foot RV decked out for kitties. They each travel in comfort and style, and have their own areas. This is critical because some of the cats, mostly Tuna, are divas and have to have their own space.
“Tuna has a sphere of hate,” Samantha explains. “The other cats walk in an arc around her. If they come within three paces of her, she’ll smack them.”
Even though Tuna is what started the Acro-Cats, and three of her offspring are in the troop, Tuna has to perform alone. She insists on stretching and grooming before doing her cat tricks, so her part is now at the end of the show.
After the show, Tuna rings a bell and taps on a big tip jar, demanding payment for her performance. She will ring that bell and tap the jar indefinitely, causing Samantha to consider having her be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army!
Living with the Acro-Cats – it’s always a circus of cat tricks!
Samantha’s home is filled with props for the cat tricks. When she comes home, her kitties don’t run to greet her. They all go to their props and do their cat tricks. Her homecoming is like a circus – cats pushing barrels and walking tightropes. On the kitchen table, the band instruments are set up and cats are playing. All except for Pinky, who stands posing at the guitar refusing to play until she is paid with a little treat – a bit of Friskies® Sliced Chicken Dinner in Gravy.
“I think she must’ve been stiffed by some nightclub,” Samantha jokes. “She won’t play without payment up front.”
Samantha says training cats is really easy, especially kittens – they are sponges. “Absolutely any cat can be trained, even the older ones,” she says. She is developing an instructional guide that will be available on her web site, CircusCats.com, so others can train their own cats.
Samantha’s show is meant to be both entertaining and educational. She encourages cat owners to stimulate their cats’ minds. “Cats need the same kind of mental interaction that dogs do. They love to be trained.”
To find out where you can see these amazing Acro-Cats and The Rock Cats, go to CircusCats.com.
Meet some other talented cats – The Friskies® Cat Team!
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