Cat lovers, take heed, for what I'm about to tell you just may change your life. If you thought that cat cafes and cat bars were the be-all, end-all cat-centric experiences, it is time to revise your opinion. Both of those things bring me great joy, but neither bring anywhere near the amount of pure child-like wonder I experienced watching The Amazing Acro-Cats, featuring a performance by the world's only cat band: the Rock Cats.
Let's ignore the fact that this is something straight out of an episode of Portlandia (except these cats are from Chicago and there is whole band worth of them, not just one) and focus on just how amazing it is that anyone can get cats to do anything on a stage in front of a live audience.
A single cat that will perform tricks is a rare sight to behold, but a whole troupe of them? That, my friends, is a miracle. Training eighteen or so cats to perform an act would take saint-like levels of patience and a deep, deep love for domestic felines, and show runner Samantha Martin seems to possess both of these qualities.
To say Samantha loves cats would probably be an understatement. Not only does she train her own cats, but sells cat training kits and DVDs, and partners with shelters to help cats and kittens find loving homes. From her website:
Our mission is to show cat lovers how to improve their relationship with their furr ever friends through positive reinforcements resulting in long-lasting and beneficial behaviors.
A component of this mission is forming partnerships that involve fostering and finding homes for cats and kittens as our troupe of former orphans and strays travel from city to city in a custom cat bus.
What makes us extraordinary is our commitment to improving the relationship between humans and their furr ever feline friends.
This show has everything. A groundhog MC (who also plays the gong), a bowling chicken named "Cluck Norris" (who plays the tambourine/cymbals), and — of course — lots and lots of cats.
I attended a Sunday afternoon showing of this magical event, and for some reason was surprised to find many children in attendance. (I'll be honest, I sometimes forget that children like fun too.) The place was packed, so I didn't get a very good seat, but I was smart and had paid for the meet and great, so knew there would be plenty of opportunities for photos with the band.
It's a little hard to describe what happened during that glorious hour and a half, but I can tell you that it was amazing. I have never seen such cooperative felines. These cats walked across balance beams, rang bells, pulled ropes, and jumped through literal hoops, much to everyone's delight. The grown man sitting next me was unable to contain his joy, and just get laughing and muttering "wow," over and over.
Of course, even the most well-trained cats are still cats. Sure, not every trick was performed right on command, and some weren't even performed at all. And yes, a performer or two did decide that they would rather roam through the audience than jump through their hoop, but that made the tricks performed that much more enjoyable.
The star of the show was a fine feline named Tuna, a cowbell playing creature that we were warned not to pet. In fact, during the meet and greet, there were only two "pet-able" cats, and none of them were in the band. We were also told we could not pet the Cluck Norris, much to my dismay.
But being barred from physical contact with the band didn't really bother me — I'm used to that — and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the twenty five bucks I spent on this ticket were the best twenty five bucks I've spent all year.
Not only did I buy a shirt, but followed every single Acro-Cat with a Twitter account. (There are four: Jax, Tuna, Buggles, and Oz.) To say I suggest seeing this show would be a very conservative assessment of my feelings. I am basically the Pitchfork staffer in this clip:
If you have the chance, you simple must see The Amazing Acro-Cats, unless you hate joy and happiness (or cats, in which case, please leave).
Check out the website to see if The Amazing Acro-Cats and The Rock Cats will be pouncing on your town any time soon and join the Facebook fan page to keep up-to-date on important Acro-Cat news. Oh, and be sure to check out the Rock Cats music video. It's the cat's pajamas.