Amazing Acro-Cats Perform To Show Training Cats is Paw-sible

By Annika Cline
Published: Friday, February 26, 2016 - 5:23pm
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(Photo by Annika Cline - KJZZ)
Tiny instruments were modified so the cats can play them.

The Amazing Acro-Cats are in town. It’s a traveling cat circus and rock band. If you think that’s impossible, well, it’s easier than herding cats.

Animal trainer Samantha Martin said it’s entirely possible to train cats, you just have to understand they won’t do it for free. Many cats will literally jump through hoops for a piece of chicken.

The 14 cats  - and one live chicken - walk across balance beams, jump to platforms and play tiny instruments, modified of course to account for the lack of opposable thumbs.

Martin said they’re her pets as much as her performers.

“It’s like hiring your own family,” Martin said. “I bottle-raised a lot of them, I cuddle with them at night, and I allowed them to be cats.” 

That’s why sometimes they do act as you’d expect a cat to act. They interrupt the humans with incessant bell ringing, they jump out into the audience, and sometimes they refuse to do a trick altogether.

The show’s not perfect, but Martin said that’s part of what the audience likes.

“If they saw this perfect show where the cats did perfectly and didn’t mess up at all, they wouldn’t be inspired to go home and try it with their own cats, because they would think it’s unreachable,” she said. 

That’s Martin’s big goal - for cat owners watching to see they, too, can train their cat. She said many cats are returned to shelters because of behavioral issues, but a little training and encouragement go a long way to change their attitude.

Martin often takes in foster cats on the road, trains them and adopts them out on the road, too.

“No owner is going to relinquish a cat that high-fives them when they come home from work, so it’s a way of ensuring that that kitty’s going to have a forever home,” Martin said.

After the show, the audience has a chance to meet and greet the stars, maybe get a paw-tograph … or a little more cowbell.

Audience member Sue Behera was decked out in a cat sweater and socks for the performance. 

“Yeah, I’m obsessed with cats,” Behera said.

She said she learned some new tricks from The Acro-Cats.

“The whole entire time I kept picturing how I was going to train my cat to do this, but I don’t know if my cat would actually listen, she’s pretty snooty,” Behera said. 

Well, it’s always the cat’s call if they do a trick or not. But it helps to give a treat, a pet and a little a-paws. 

The Acro-Cats will be in Phoenix through March 6.

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