Circus cat is Guinness World Record holder with 6 foot jump (video)

Feline circus act tour bus

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

‘Alley the cat’ is one member of a band of circus cats who make up the Amazing Acro-Cats. She’s a calico and currently holds the record for the longest jump by a domestic cat. This has to be from a standing start (incidentally, the world best feline jumper is the cougar).

What is special is that she jumps from one podium to another and they’re both quite small areas. She is not only a very good long jumper but she is also very accurate. This is not unusual for any domestic cat. They are able to weight their jumps exceptionally precisely so that they land on a surface with precision. We have all seen it.

She jumps 6 feet and the record was set on October 27, 2013. She gradually built up to that distance in her training.

The Amazing Acro-Cats is a group of touring feline circus performers based in Chicago, USA. I can remember a Russian feline theatre which I wrote about some time ago.

The troupe was founded by animal trainer Samantha Martin who is also their caretaker/guardian. She acts as the ringleader. They’re very popular and have a packed tour schedule.

There are 14 females and 2 male cats in the troupe. Are female cats better at being circus cats than male cats? I’d like to know whether this is a coincidence or deliberate.

Samantha has two assistants, Polly Smith and Seunga Park, but volunteers also step in to assist sometimes. They’re on the road for 10 months of the year and have a special tour bus (old and it needs maintenance!). I wonder how everybody manages in the tour bus on long journeys. Fourteen cats is quite a large number and I can see some difficulties but Samantha manages. In fact, when you look at the photographs it all looks very luxurious and perfectly manageable!

Feline circus act tour bus

The Amazing Acro-Cats travel with foster kittens who are available for adoption. There’s even an incubator on the bus – Samantha is very fond of kittens; she also acts as a foster carer. She must be a busy lady.

Perhaps she needs a constant stream of fresh blood into the troupe to ensure that she is able to continue with her circus act. All her young cats are clicker trained, Martin says, and by the time they are adopted out to a forever home they are able to do a high-five! Throughout the time that Samantha has been running her circus act she has fostered and had adopted 157 cats into permanent homes.

Samantha originally started off with rodents but was unable to make a living based solely on performing rats so about 10 years ago she changed to cats whereupon people started to show up in large numbers. It took off. Well, you know how popular cats are on the Internet. Samantha was in at the beginning of the craze.

I can tell that Samantha is a great cat lover because not only does she manage her feline circus act she also wants to help spectators to build a better relationship with their cats so she demonstrates to spectators that cats are trainable and that they can be great fun.

I suppose some people will disagree with the idea of circus cats and indeed training cats and I’d be interested to hear your comments. It depends upon how the cats are managed and cared for. My impression is that this is a happy band of felines who are well cared for, indeed loved.

When they are off the road they live in Martin’s Chicago apartment which has a catio, an enclosure in the yard attached to the apartment. When they’re at home they do the same sort of things that they do when on the road, ‘working’, enjoy themselves performing and messing around.

If there are detractors of feline circuses, I think we have to see the beneficial side of it as well. The cats are active and with their carer 24/7. Right away that’s an improvement on many homes.

Is it cat exploitation? I don’t feel that it is, in this instance. I’d be surprised if she was making a lot of money unlike Grumpy cat. Samantha is simply doing what she loves and when you throw in the fostering and educational roles she does a lot of good as well. What do you think?


15 thoughts on “Circus cat is Guinness World Record holder with 6 foot jump (video)”

    • If we saw this show I’d expect that there would be some failures in the performances. Although it is probably fairly predictable there will be some moments when a cat will not want to do his trick. I’d expect Samantha to then go onto another act and another cat.

  1. i think sometimes when we think of trained cats we think of the lion tamer cracking their whip, etc, & then apply THAT 2 cat trainers like this woman. im sure though that if she is raising awareness, fostering, adopting, & finding homes 4 so many cats shes doing it all n a humane way. u CAN use treats 2 train, though it doesnt always work just as im sure the clicker doesnt always work, cuz cats do what they want when they want, period. if she really was treating them n a way they didnt like it would b very obvious by their behavior, just like with dogs or any other animal. if they arent cowering, moving away from her, if they arent skittish around people n general, & if the majority of her cats r performing then shes probably treating them n an acceptable way. i have 2 say if their lives r anything like the videoes ive seen & what u have written then they have it far better than most cats. people really cant say shes doing something “bad” 2 her cats if they never act like it, & theres no evidence of it. well i guess u can, but it certainly doesnt make it true. i hope her cats do enjoy it as much as it seems, & their lives r as they r portrayed.

    • Well said Ed. You make a good point. We do associate circuses with anima abuse really because they are in cages etc.. and heavily trained. But this is different as you say. This is really about having fun and showing how athletic the domestic cat is. Also I sense that Samantha is a decent person.

  2. I’ve had a couple of female cats who really enjoyed playing fetch. I never taught them to retrieve the toy, they did this voluntarily to prolong the game. Sophie would go so far as to drop a toy into my lap whenever she wanted to initiate a game of fetch.

    The internet is full of cats naturally performing amazing leaps and displaying their abilities to scale brick walls, thin rails etc. Cats are natural acrobats and maybe some of the more determined ones enjoy a new challenge?

  3. I don’t have a problem with these kinds of cat shows, because you simply cannot make a cat do something it does not want to. I saw a small cat show like this many years ago and when one of the cats decided not to participate when required, their trainer simply moved on to the next stage of the act using a different cat. The cats were clearly besotted with this guy and could be seen visibly leaning towards him everytime he walked by 🙂 I waited to meet him after the show and he told me they were all rescue cats and that he simply based his show around the kind of games they enjoyed playing most.

    I would imagine it’s the more intelligent cats who become the best performers, because they would enjoy the mental stimulation that comes from learning new tricks. Perhaps it’s just coincidence that the current troupe is made up of mainly females.

    I like the idea that Amazing Acro-Cats also find homes for cats as well as raising awareness about what great pets they can make.

    • I think that you have hit the nail on the head in that what they are doing really is playing but playing in a controlled way having been trained. And as you say, if they don’t want to do it they won’t. You can’t force a cat to do anything.

      I don’t see anything wrong with clicker training but some people don’t like it. I don’t see anything wrong in training one’s cat, but once again some people don’t like it although they accept that dogs can and should be trained. There are quite a few benefits to this kind of lifestyle for a cat despite it being rather unnatural.

    • I, respectfully, disagree.
      I would be able to make any of my cats do anything with enough intimidation. No cat, naturally, leaps like that without reprisal. Do cats experience the enjoyment? I suspect that they are trained by punishment, not love.
      In any case, using any animal for entertainment for profit is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  4. Nope.
    What do we think will be the results of the wear and tear on the joints of the cats down the road after “performing” multiple times per day?
    And, when they are permanently disabled, will trainer Samantha care for them?


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