Abandoned cats taught to perform in a circus


Kayse Angel

Rowan Ogden, Staff Writer

Tuesday, May 21 through Thursday, May 23, The Rock Cat’s Rescue performed at the Renton Carco Theatre.

In a crowded 45-foot tour bus, this family of a cat trainer, two assistants, 18 performing cats, four bottle-fed kittens, two rats, a groundhog, a chicken, and thousands of pounds of props has traveled all around the nation and into our town.

The show features cats doing a variety of tricks including cats on skateboards, performances of the record for longest cat leap, and the cats playing music.

CEH (Chief Executive Human), Samantha Martin explains the training process and ends the shows with the Acro-Cats and the Tuna and the Rock Cats. The oldest performer of the age of 14 years and the youngest being only 6 months.

Martin says, “It’s definitely a lot of work, but I can see the countryside, meet interesting people and never leave the animals I love behind… and also help save some lives along the way.”

When Martin met a talented feline in 2002 whose name is Tuna, Martin couldn’t give up the chance to show off this cat’s skills. It lead to a band with some non-feline members and soon became what it is today: a whole circus from 2005 and onward.

The current band consists of Roux on guitar, Asti on drums, Nue on keyboard, Ahi and Albacore on cowbells and woodblocks, Buggles on trumpet, Oz on saxophone, and a chicken named Cluck Norris on the tambourine, the last five being new members.

All the cats in the show are Martin’s, for she adopts orphans, rescues and strays and takes them in as her own and uses positive reinforcement to train them into being healthy and active. She bases their acts on what they seem good at around the house. Martin uses clicking and treats to get the cats to learn the tricks for the show which can take minutes to days to learn depending on the complexity of the trick and the will of the cat.

Martin goes on about how it isn’t difficult to train the cats, for they are very smart, but what is difficult is getting the cats to do things on command.

“Cats are like ‘I’ll do it in a second, or not,’” she said. “You just have to throw your arm out and keep smiling.”

She even likes that the audience can see the cats say no sometimes so that the some that are debating supporting her for not knowing whether the cats are mistreated or not could have a sense of reassurance that no one is getting hurt. It’s so big of a concern for people that Martin is considering changing the name of her website from “Circus Cats” to “Acro-Cats”

Martin began fostering through a rescue organization in 2009. She went to pick up a small litter, though, when Martin got there, the facility staff told her some would be euthanized if they weren’t taken soon, so Martin ended up taking home 13 kittens.

“It was a game changing moment for me. I’ve learned a lot more cats end up in shelters than dogs,” Martin said. “The least I can do is take in a few and offer them a safe haven and try to find them homes through my show.”

Martin has found homes for 256 homeless cats and kittens on her journey, the cats already socialized and clicker trained. Martin said the show has also changed people’s relationships with their cats by encouraging them to bond with pets through clicker training.

“You’ll never give up a cat that high-fives you when you get home from work,” she said. “Your cat will become your best friend.”

More information is available at RockCatsRescue.org

Some of the cats are also available on social media

•Tuna and The “Rock-cats” (@RockCatsRescue)
•Amazing Acro-Cats Fan Club
•Captain Patch (@captaintheoneeyedwondercat)

•The Amazing Acro-Cats (@acrocats)
•JAX ACROCAT (@jaxacrocat)
•Captain Patch (@captain_patch_the_cat)
•Baby Bobby (@baby_bobby_the_cat)

•The Amazing AcroCats (@AmazingAcroCats)
•JAX ACROCAT (@JaxAcrocat)
•Tunas (@Tunathecat)
•Buggles D. Cat (@Bugglesdacat)
•Ozwald Martin (@OzAcrocat)

•The Amazing Acro-Cats (amazingacro-cats.tumblr.com)

•The Amazing Acro-Cats