May 8 2013 12:00 AM

Performing cat show rolls into East Lansing this week


The traveling show coming to the Hannah Community Center this week features animals you’re more likely to find dozing in a warm sunbeam on your living room floor than prowling through the jungle.  

The Amazing Acro-Cats is one of four performing house cat troupes in the U.S. Under ringleader Samantha Martin, the group has been touring steadily for the last four years, combining elements of amusement and education. But really: How do you train a cat? 

"It´s all positive reinforcement, with some begging and pleading at times," Martin said. "You never know what´s going to happen."

The Acro-Cats jump through hoops, walk on tightropes and perform tricks on command. The group also features the Rock Cats, a faux rock band made up of cats “playing” guitars, keyboards and drums. Oh, and there’s a chicken on tambourine.  

The first show was held in a California art gallery, which Martin described as “horrible.”

"The people still loved the show even though the cats were kind of like whomp, whomp, whomp," she said, with a trombone fail sound effect. But it didn´t derail her. The second show was more successful, and then it "just kind of took off from there."

Martin said the group regularly performs to sold-out venues, which she said consists of about 70 percent grown-ups. She has also used the troupe to find homes for over 100 kittens in the last four years. Martin said she´s touring with three foster kittens, which may be up for adoption when the tour makes its stop in East Lansing.

"It´s about being able to do something that I love to do and be able to be around the animals that I love," she said. "Even if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would probably still do exactly what I´m doing. I anticipate doing it until I die."

The Amazing Acro-Cats
7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday
$18 adults, $15 kids 12 and under
East Lansing Hannah Community Center
819 Abbot Road, East Lansing