The Amazing Acro-Cats, an all-feline circus group founded in Chicago by animal trainer Samantha Martin in 2005, is now a worldwide phenomenon.
Martin first entered the glittering world of animal showbusiness when she began training rats for film, with her small business The Rat Company and Friends becoming the go-to rodent provider for filmmakers.
Having been bitten by the animal-acting bug (and possibly a few rats) Samantha decided to expand beyond rodent training and find a new four-legged animal to train for the big screen.
Inspired by Tuna
It would be cats, which Samantha has always had an affinity for, that would become her new stars. She gathered an eclectic collection of cats, all of which were rescues and strays, and began booking them for film and advertising jobs.
It wasn’t until Samantha adopted a white cat named Tuna that she truly found the inspiration for what would become the world’s first cat circus.
In a video released by The A.V Club, Samantha Martin explained how Tuna inspired her to start welcoming people in to witness the tricks that she could teach to cats.
Speaking of Tuna and how she helped to inspire The Amazing Acro-Cats, Martin said:
“She wasn’t a very affectionate cat but she really liked training, so I started to teach her to do some things and then I started taking her places.
You know, initially, it was to get more film work for the cats but people were so interested and excited that a cat could do tricks that I ended up putting a whole little show together.”
Hitting the road
Once her fantastic feline troupe had been assembled, Samantha traveled with the kitties from state to state in an R.V, performing up to three shows a day with her talented cats.
It soon became clear to Samantha that her gifted feline stars deserved more comfort and luxury as they traveled than a cramped and aging R.V could offer them.
So in 2012, she launched a Kickstarter to raise money for a proper tour bus. Within the campaign goals section, Martin wrote that she would be using the money raised to create:
“A lush, plush, safe, and stimulating environment for the cats; everything from built-in perches, posts, catwalks, and toys; and even a nursery for our foster kittens.”
Eventually, Samantha raised over $30,500 dollars and her accomplished kitties were given the tour bus of their dreams.
Promoting cat care
Samantha Martin has shared that the driving force behind The Amazing Acro-Cats has always been the goal of promoting cat welfare.
She hopes that when people see how much a domestic cat can learn through simple click training and how much joy performing tricks gives them, people will be encouraged to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with cats.
The show goes on
Seventeen years later and The Amazing Acro-Cats are still traveling the country and entertaining countless people with their incredible tricks.
The show doesn’t always go smoothly though, as Martin admits that sometimes asking an independently-minded cat to do something can be met with a big fat ‘NO’. She explained to The A.V Club:
“They’re cats they’re still independent they’re not really out to please you, they’re more out to please themselves. People say it’s one of the best parts of the show when the cats don’t do what I ask them to.”
Despite these occasional setbacks The Amazing Acro-Cats continue to capture hearts and look likely to keep doing so for many years to come!