Meet Samantha Martin also known as “chief executive human” for the Amazing Acro Cats and the Rock Cats. She orchestrates live shows featuring 14 cats plus a chicken named Cluck Norris and a groundhog named Garfield. The show features cats playing toy pianos, drums and guitars as members of the Rock Cats band.
“Cats are highly sensitive animals and they can be easily distracted and they pick up on our moods and stress levels,” notes Martin. “That’s why we added Garfield on gongs and Cluck Norris on cymbals. Chickens are easy to train and very reliable. Cats are not reliable. They stretch, want to groom, may wander off in the middle of the show, but our chicken has a good work ethic and is a true professional.”
To build more reliability among her cats, Samantha employs clicker training. “I spend time watching what my cats do and when I see a behavior I think would be cool for the sow, I click and reward that behavior,” she explains. “It may be a cat who likes to leap or one who is skilled with his paws or one who loves to fetch a ball who I can teach to retrieve.”
Among the feline stars (yes, some have their own Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages) include:
• Alley: This once shy, weak calico was rescued from an alley in Chicago as a kitten. Alley set a Guinness World Record for the longest jump by a domestic cat – leaping six feet and landing without a stumble in front of an audience on Oct. 27, 2013. To date, this is the longest feline leap on record.
• Tuna: This white domestic shorthaired cat ranks as the original Acro-Cat. She serves as the band leader, playing the cowbell. When not performing as an Acro Cat, Tuna is an in-demand feline actress, having appeared in movies, documentaries and television shows.
• Sookie: She me-WOWs audiences with her ability to push a shopping cart filled with sparkly cat toys across the stage. She is also quite good at playing chimes.
• Asti: This brown-striped tabby is an avid bird watcher who thrives on racing up and down the theater aisles and leaping onto Martin’s back on cue from a high platform.
• Buggles: This black cat prefers people over cats (especially rival Tuna) and hails as the group’s skateboarding champ.
In addition, Samantha works with shelters all over the country and fosters cats and kittens. Since 2009, she has helped find homes for 165 shelter cats.
“My goals are to help cats and kittens find homes and to help people build better relationships with their cats,” declares Samantha. “Cats need jobs, physical activity and mental stimulation. Spend just 10 minutes a day training your cat a fun trick and trust me, you will have a much happier, enriched cat — not one who is so bored that he ends up shredding your sofa.”
To learn more about the amazing Acro-Cats, visit
www.circuscats.com. And tune into a special episode of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio that features an interview with Samantha by clicking here:
By Sarah Zumhofe