By Rachel Belle
The Rock Cats is a band. Comprised completely of cats. There’s Pinky on guitar, Sookie on the chimes and Tuna on cowbell. Only three of the six band members made it into the KIRO studio Monday, but all six members of the Rock Cats are in Seattle right now, touring with the Amazing Acro-Cats, a traveling kitty cat circus show based in Chicago.
“I don’t know if you can call it music,” admits the show’s creator and cat trainer, Samantha Martin. “It’s kind of real experimental jazz with a little bit of a Latin twist because we have the chimes and the cowbell thing going on. I think it’s a whole different form of music, we could start a whole new movement, I think. I personally don’t think their music is all that great. I don’t listen to it in my leisure time. People seem to love it though. They seem to love it.”
Samantha wore a set of kitty ears during our interview and drives a massive, painted Acro-Cats RV around the country.
“I wanted to be an animal trainer since I was seven. So I got a stray kitty named Tuna, and Tuna turned out to be a really brilliant cat. I mean, she can do, like, 16 different behaviors.”
The Acro Cats are in Seattle right now, through September 1st, putting on the show that keeps them on the road two thirds of the year.
“The cats can roll barrels, jump through hoops, push shopping carts, ring bells.”
The show is in it’s seventh year and it’s a huge hit.
“People just seem to love it, no matter how great it was or how bad it was. It really runs the gamut of ‘Awesomeness and every cat does its trick!’ and then it’s ‘Awesomeness because none of the cats do [their] trick!’ It turned out to be kind of a win-win.”
From what I saw, the cats love performing and they purred the whole way through.
“People don’t think about training cats and they should because cats like to learn. It’s good for their brain. It’s the bored cats that end up with the behavioral problems and end up in shelters. More cats end up in shelters than dogs because they don’t have the same kind of bond as a dog has with their human, but you can change that if you train your cat.”
Oh, and besides the 13 cats who perform in the shows, the band also features a chicken who plays tambourine, a cymbal and I also witnessed the chicken ringing a bell.
“Chickens are easier to train than cats, actually. You can train a chicken to do just about anything in three minutes. I went to a place called the Bailey Chicken Training Camp a few years back and I took, like, three semesters. Chickens are a lot more focused. The chicken is probably the most professional of the group, as far as his working motto.”
If you’re thinking that a cat and chicken show sounds a little cuckoo…
“I actually used to have a trained rat troupe called The Amazing Acro-Rats. It was really quite successful, but there’s not a huge market for rats. You know, the shows always had to be very small and I couldn’t make a living on just rats, I discovered.”
But cats are bringing home the bacon!