You know the phrase "herding cats"? Well, Samantha Martin, founder of The Amazing Acro-Cats and Rock-Cats, does just that with her touring troupe of rescued house kitties who wow crowds with their ability to push carts, ride skateboards, turn on lights, walk tight ropes, play instruments, and much more. Most of the cats in Samantha's show are orphans, rescues, or strays, and the group also take fosters on the road, where they have found homes for nearly 90 cats and kittens to date.
Martin, who has been training animals since she was ten, started the group 7 years ago. She uses clicker training to condition the cats, which relies on using positive reinforcement. In addition to providing entertainment, the show is meant to demonstrate what cats are really capable of. Martin says, "By training your own feline, many behavioral problems can be prevented while also providing physical exercise and mental stimulation. Plus it's a great way to spend some quality time with your kitty."
Now, the Amazing Acro-Cats and Rock-Cats are looking to the public for help in continuing their mission. Their current tour bus is falling apart, so they created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $28,000 to help purchase and refurbish a larger and safer vehicle. They have plans to gut a retired tour bus and turn it into a cat paradise, that will include cat walks, cat trees, and a permanent nursery/foster area, "so even more little kittens will have the chance at a forever home."
Like most Kickstarter initiatives, there's a huge range of rewards for those willing to make a pledge. For the minimum amount of $12, patrons will receive a bumper sticker that says "I helped build the Cat-mobile!" and a Tuna and the Rock-Cats postcard, while larger donations net awesome gear like a Cat Training Kit, assorted Rock-Cats merch, tickets to upcoming shows, and my favorite -- the chance to have Tuna (aka "The Star") write you letters from the road!
While the campaign is meant to signify a fresh start for the animal collective, it's also tinged with sadness. The cat bus project is dedicated to the memory of the Rock-Cats' beloved kitty guitar player, Pinky, who lost her battle to breast cancer late last month.
To learn about The Amazing Acro-Cats and The Rock-Cats, visit their website or Kickstarter page for more information.