Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Cat Circus Comes to Town

Think for a minute about circuses. My first memory comes out of a blurry past. My family happened to live near a railroad track in our small-soon-to-be-large town in the Midwest. We actually watched the circus train unload and the parade of elephants pulling equipment to a nearby empty lot. That along with the actual performance amid sawdust with the clowns, high wire acts, wild animals and acrobats, cotton candy and popcorn keeping us enthralled.
Last week while seeking for things to do with my grandchildren I came across a listing in the newspaper for the AMAZING ACRO-CATS CAT CIRCUS and I was hooked right away. Not for my grandkids, but for me.
No train, no elephants, no wild animals but described as amazing and acrobatic and highly entertaining! It sounded like great fun. To think that cats could perform high wire, bowl, leap through circles (no fire though) and perform in a rock band just seemed like a rockin’ good time. To see the cats, a major love of my life, but to see if they could actually do these things was intriguing. I had to make a deal with my husband so he would go with me but I knew it would be worth it.
The venue was not an empty lot but a small charming funky theatre in old town Fort Collins called the None Such Theatre. When we arrived the lobby was full of cat lovers. The Fort Collins Cat Rescue was also present to hand out information next to two very acrobatic kittens in a cage that were available for adoption. Also the Cat Circus trained rescue cats for their stars so they always had one or two needing homes on site.
The theatre sat about 50, and there was a stage filled with things like climbing poles, wagons ,a set of drums, a guitar and piano (cat size of course) but arranged around the outside of the stage, and piled on the floor behind curtains were 15 or so cat carriers. Soft music blended with the voices of the patrons as they started to fill the seats. One by one the cats were brought in and put into their carriers.
Tuna, a large short haired white cat was the first to appear from his carrier. With a click on a clicker and a swing of her arm the handler directed the cat toward a small lamp sitting at the front of the stage. The house lights had dimmed and the crowd leaned forward and craned their necks to get a glimpse. Tuna took his time sauntering to the front of the stage. Even though interested in the people and faces and stuff crammed onto the small stage it was clear she knew what her task was. As her handler tapped and pointed she lifted her paw and turned on the light…so the show began.
Along with the multi-talented cats we were treated to a ground hog driving a car, a chicken doing a high wire act and 5 little mice with hats on scurrying across a high wire.
I was wondering, and I imagine you are too about what percent of the time they did their tricks. I would say 98% of the time. That is not to say on the first try! The cats had been clicker trained with treats (yummy chunks of chicken). They emerged from their carriers, ran to center stage, and on cue balanced, leapt, rolled, pushed toys, answered questions (by raising a paw) and generally looked as if they were having a great time. Only once did a cat run into the open lobby next door but she came back when she heard the click. None of them tried to run out the door.
To train one cat to do a trick is a challenge but to get four up in front along with the chicken was a true feat. But that was exactly what happened. White cat on guitar, long haired white cat on the drums, grey on the piano and then Tuna, the star of the show on the cow bell, along with the very attentive chicken playing a tambourine. Believe it or not they all played in unison. I got the biggest kick out of the drummer. She would lean forward reaching her paw out, signal for her treat and with a sign from her trainer sit back and hit the sticks for the drums 4 or 5 times then lean forward again. So with a few slight breaks for treats the Rock-Cats created a rock and roll song. I don’t think it had a name.
You probably need to like cats to have enjoyed the Cat Circus. But it was on hour of delightful antics by the cats as well as an energetic performance by the owner Samatha Martin and her assistant. We all left shaking our heads in amazement and with smiles on our faces.


  1. I'm so happy to read about the cat circus! I was curious about it but wasn't able to attend. It sounds like it was a fun time. I wasn't sure cats would allow a human to teach them anything :-)