‘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!
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?