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Arts and Entertainment

Check Out The Weird, Wonderful Cat Circus Purrformers In Santa Monica & Hollywood

The circus cats of The Rock Cats band (Photo courtesy of The Acro-Cats)
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Anyone who's ever said cats can't be trained is wrong. Samantha Martin's traveling cat circus, The Acro-Cats, proves that her feline friends can perform tricks (even better than your average dog) as her tour makes a stop in Santa Monica and Hollywood this month.

And the kitties even play in a rock band called "The Rock Cats," which Martin says is the only cat band in the world. We don't doubt the validity of this tagline since we've never seen anything like this before.

LAist attended the quirky show's opening night at the Santa Monica Playhouse on Thursday. (The purrformances will run through April 20.) The theater, which is fashioned to look like the inside of an old Victorian home with picture frames adorning the walls, is a cozy and intimate setting for Martin's dozen cats or so that walked on tightropes, bowled, balanced over rolling balls, skateboarded, and pushed mini shopping carts. The homey theater is perfect for the show since Martin said the props on stage, which had plenty of purple velvet and sparkly disco balls, sit inside her house on a regular basis. (And yes, she admitted she lives with all of those cats.)

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While the show was going on, the felines freely roamed and ran under the audience's seats (unplanned, we're sure), but that added to the craziness of the whole atmosphere. Although these furry animals were well-trained for the most part (in which a blow of a whistle would bring them back to their carriers), they still had the "I'll do whatever the hell I want" attitude cats are known to have. Sometimes they'd perform, sometimes they wouldn't, and sometimes it would take some coaxing with bits of cooked salmon and chicken. But the audience didn't seemed to mind and cheered the animals on, which surprisingly was sometimes enough to get the cats to do their tricks.

Martin made sure to use a variety of cat puns, including "cattitude," and had self-deprecating cat-lady humor. She discussed her dating life and told the audience, "I'm single...and I'll probably stay that way."

But what made the show enjoyable was that Martin was eccentric, but still personable. The animal trainer has worked with a variety of animals in films and music videos (like Megadeth!), according to her website. She talked about how all the cats in the show were either rescues or strays, and she had personally found homes for 134 cats since 2009. Part of the reason she tours with The Acro-Cats is to show cat-owners that they too can train their pets with positive reinforcement.

But what folks were waiting for was to see the Rock-Cats band to play. Seriously, cats on drums, guitar and keyboard? (We've only see the popular Keyboard Cat on YouTube, but never in real life.) There was even a chicken named "Cluck Norris" that rang bells and played the cymbals. The star of the show, a white kitty named Tuna, played the cowbell. Martin and her stage assistants would get the audience to shout out, "More cowbell, Tuna!" to get the celebrity cat amped.

Even though you're not going to get a full-out concert (seriously, the animals can only do so much), but they did try to strum the strings and play some notes on the mini-keyboard. That was good enough for us.

The Acro-Cats will be performing at the Santa Monica Playhouse located at 1211 4th St. in Santa Monica through to April 20. Then the show will move to The Underground Theater Co. at 1312 N. Wilton Pl. in Hollywood from April 24 to May 4. All general admission tickets are $25 to $26 each. Find more information on the schedule and how to buy tickets here.

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