I Saw Cat Acrobats in an Abandoned Quiznos and It Was Worth Every Cent


I was in Texas last week and a friend of a friend started talking pretty enthusiastically about cat acrobats (AKA catrobats) (AKA acrocats). WHOA WHOA SLOW DOWN, LAURA: WTF is a cat acrobat and how can I see one immediately? The answer is that a catrobat is an obedient-ish cat who sometimes (sometimes!) performs tricks in front of an audience if he or she is so inclined. And as luck would have it, I could see one immediately as this troupe of semiprofessional felines would be performing on the outskirts of Austin later that day.

After eating all the breakfast tacos in Austin, we hopped in the car and booked it over to an abandoned mall, where the cats would be performing in a scale replica of the Paris Opera House (I imagined). The actual theater was a shuttered Quiznos. Or maybe it was just next to a Quiznos? It was hard to tell, but you could definitely smell something stale and yeasty, so there was no question a Quiznos was once nearby. (Or maybe that was the cats?) (Probably the cats.)

Here are the two baller modes of acrocat transportation:

Inside, we were greeted by this sign, and the anticipation grew.

Before the show, we could buy snacks:

Or merch (painted by the very performers we were just moments away from meeting!):

Further inside, still: A FULL HOUSE FOR THE CATROBATS!

The Rockcats stage! Later in the show, cats sat on miniature instruments as Halloween music played.

Finally, the show began. We were introduced to Samantha Martin — not a cat — the trainer, owner, and HBiC of the Acrocats. The self-proclaimed crazy cat lady got into animal rescue because that’s what crazy cat ladies do. She then she took it a step further by doing something truly wackadoo — she began clicker training her cats. And then getting more cats. Enough for a circus! And maybe imprisonment in some states! JK, all the cats appeared happy, healthy, and unwilling to do JACKSHIT. Circuses with animals are bullshit and horrible, but this isn’t a circus in the traditional sense — it’s more a circus in the sense of a kinda wacky dreamer with clicker, a bag full of Friskies, and about a million cats (15?) and four foster kittens.

As you may have noticed, Martin talked about Tuna — this gorgeous white bitch is the star of the show and she performs on no man’s schedule. Every time we wanted Tuna to come out, we had to cheer. If Tuna so much as stretched in our direction, the crowd went INSANE.

Other than that, it was just a lot of props falling over:

And cats running into the audience:

And cats wearing dancing bear collars and jumping on things. Kinda like stuff you’d see at home, but with more dancing bear collars. Or fewer dancing bear collars, depending on what you’re into.

And that, my friends, is an acrocat. If you need more (and you do), there’s a movie coming.

Also, if anyone is upset about cats being made to do anything cats don’t want to do, just know that cats weren’t doing shit that they did not want to do (see: Tuna, all the cats there). Also, while I was there, I snooped around and talked to the women running the show, and they all appeared to be very passionate about animal welfare:

[Martin]’s Acro-Cats show featuring the Rock Cats all-cat band have inspired, thrilled and mystified audiences of all ages coast to coast as well as re-defined live performance with her own wonderfully unique blend of spectacle, entertainment, education, public awareness and a genuine dedication providing financial contribution, promotion and rescue/rehabilitation/adoption assistance, for animal welfare groups wherever she performs.

If you know anything I don’t, please leave the info in the comments, but as an animal lover who has fostered literally hundreds of animals, I felt comfortable with the situcation.

[Circus Cats]

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