A Purr-fect Performance by the Acro-cats and Rock Cats

Photo by Samuel Yang | Staff Photographer

Staff Writer

Hailing from Chicago, the Acro-cats with the Rock Cats stopped by Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara this weekend to perform from April 25 to 28. The traveling troupe showcased entertaining musical acts and tricks for an audience ranging from energetic children and their parents to smiling seniors.

The Acro-cats and the Rock Cats are a traveling group of cats that also double as a band during their many tour stops across America. They often collaborate with groups such as ZenByCat, Furry Friends, and House of Dreams to promote adoption of stray cats looking for homes.

Samantha Martin, who started by training the cats she owned, eventually created this performing team out of her passion for animal welfare. Raising awareness for rehabilitation and adoption of shelter cats is one of her biggest priorities.

The show was hosted by Martin, with help from her two assistants, Scully and Debbie, who helped entice the cats with treats and call them back with training whistles and clickers whenever the cats wandered off into the audience. The Acro-cats consisted of a team of cats including Asti, Alley, Annie, Buggles, Buffy, Jax, Nola, Oz, Pudge, and Wiki, while the Rock- Cats’ band members included Dakota, Nue, Pinky, Sookie, and Tuna.

The show kicked off with Martin introducing a few of the cats, including Tuna, who eagerly rang a bell after being fed a treat. Martin also opened up about the pressure of showing her “trained cats in front of a live audience” and her experiences learning about how cats “don’t like balloons, hate clowns, and people in giant bunny costumes.” She comes from a background of studying animal behavior and heavily emphasized the importance of training cats using clickers along with positive enforcement.

A small yet cozy theater located in downtown Santa Barbara, the layout of Center Stage Theater allowed the cats to curiously roam into the audience in between performance stages, while allowing the audience to see clearly the various tricks and acrobatics the cats performed on stage.

The cats showcased a variety of talents, from walking a tightrope to jumping to a high post and releasing a banner that read “APPLAUSE,” cueing the audience to erupt into cheers for the cats. Some highlights of the show included Cluck Norris, a chicken who came onstage debuting a few tricks of his own, the cats taking turns pushing each other in shopping carts, and the cats approaching the audience to purr and ask for tips.

Near the end of the show, the Rock Cats had an impromptu show, which featured the cats playing instruments ranging from the piano to cowbell to drums before Martin announced that audience members could step down for photos with the performers.

The ability of the Acro-cats and the Rock Cats to appeal to a diverse audience is an essential part of Martin’s meaningful mission to save abandoned and homeless cats and promote family-friendly performances. This performance brought awareness to the importance behind supporting animal welfare and encouraged support for animal shelters that help to house orphaned animals in Santa Barbara and around the world.

For more information, visit http://circuscats.com/index.html and learn more about Samantha Martin and the Acro-cats and the Rock Cats.