The Georgia-based troupe of (sort of) circus-trained house cats known as The Amazing Acro-Cats are coming back to San Francisco five years after their 2014 debut here. This posse of pussycats are playing shows at Fort Mason from May 1 to May 14, and there are still plenty of tickets available.
If you've never seen nor heard of the Acro-Cats, a little background: The gang is led by self-taught animal trainer, Samantha Martin, who quit her day job over a decade ago to devote herself to training and hiring out show and performance cats. Martin owns and operates Samantha's Amazing Animals, which places trained cats in film and TV roles, and she began doing the cat circus primarily as a way to keep her stable of performing cats mentally sharp. But then in 2009, The Amazing Acro-Cats was born as a touring show, first based out of Chicago. More recently, Martin and her cats have moved to Griffin, Georgia, but they continue to tour. (A documentary about her and the Acro-Cats aired at SF's DocFest in 2018.)
Martin uses a clicker and treats to train the cats, and she says, "We use our show as an entertaining demonstration of what cats are really capable of, as well as the healthy benefits of clicker training."
A little more dubiously, Martin has said, "They enjoy the training. They want you to work with them," which may be true, but not always? (See Colbert video below.)
In addition to cat tricks, the act also features an all-cat band: The Rock-cats. The cats don't necessarily play the entire tune, but some have been trained to hit keyboard keys and, most notably, play the cowbell.
Martin says that most of her cats are former rescues or strays, and that she's helped adopt out upwards of 140 cats through her Acro-Cats shows. Also, she says she typically donates a portion of the show's proceeds to cat rescue organizations.
Tickets for the Fort Mason dates can be found here. But first, below, please enjoy the Acro-Cats' hilariously reluctant performance efforts on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2015. You can't always get a cat to perform on command, clearly. But a few of them really pulled it off!