It is the cutest show on earth!
A cat circus will land feet-first on the stage of Bushwick circus school the Muse on July 16. And the famously finicky felines are not pussy-footing around — they will walk on high wires, ride skateboards, and play instruments in the show, called “Acro-Cats.”
Getting cats to follow orders is tough, but the key to training them is to let the animals think they are in control, the high-flying hair-ballers’ chief herder said.
“A lot of times they pick their own tricks,” said trainer Samantha Martin. “I’ll start trying to teach them one thing and they’ll decide they’d rather push the shopping cart than ride in it. Dogs you can force, because they can be manipulated like that, but if you try those techniques on cats, they won’t stand for it.”
Martin, who has a degree in animal husbandry, started training rescue cats 13 years ago, eventually taking her show on the road with two caretakers and a 35-foot tour bus covered in kitty decals.
On tour, Martin and crew live under the metaphorical cat’s foot, ceding the bus’s suite to the show’s 14 pawed prima donnas.
“The master bedroom is decked out for the cats, so they have scratching posts and beds and hammocks and everything that their paws desire,” she said.
Still, living on the road with more than two dozen animals is not as wild as it might seem.
“We keep it really clean,” she said. “Overnight they’ll probably drop a few bombs, so we scoop first thing. It’s our living area, and we don’t want to be crazy cat ladies.”
Some circuses sell stuffed animals, but a few people who purr-chase tickets to “Acro-cats” may leave with the real thing. Martin has three trained foster cats up fur adoption.
“We put them in the show and teach them some cute behaviors — they’re all trained to come to a whistle and do a cute trick like jump through a hoop or do a high-five,” she said. “It gives extra insurance that the cat will have a furever home.”
Of course the obstinate animals sometimes put their paw down, but even when the show goes off the rails, you do not have to fear getting trampled by an elephant — more like smothered in cuteness, Martin said.
“Sometimes the cats like to run out into the crowd to get extra pets,” she said.
“Acro-Cats” at the Muse (338 Moffat St. between Irving and Knickerbocker avenues in Bushwick, (929) 400–1678, www.circu