With all the egos and personalities, it can be hard managing a rock band and keeping them working together.
Even harder if they’d rather be sleeping in the sun or chasing a toy.
“There’s Bowie, for instance, who just has this swagger when he comes on stage. He’s so flirty,” said Samantha Martin, master trainer and manager of the Rock Cats, which holds the distinction of being the only cat band in the world. “He’s the drummer, so he just steals all the glory. The guitar player can’t keep up, and the keyboard player is over there just playing a whole different song.”
The Rock Cats are members of the Amazing Acro-Cats, a circus of trained house cats that has been performing its annual Meowy Christmas show in New Orleans since 2011. The group returns to the Allways Lounge and Cabaret for almost three weeks of traditionally sold-out performances from Dec. 1-18.
“This is the only place we do this show,” said Martin, who said her love of the city and its devoted fans keep her furry touring group coming back year after year.
“We love the Acro-Cats!” said Sarah Cook, a resident of Madisonville who has seen the Meowy Christmas show with her daughter Bailey multiple times.
“My friend and I started taking our daughters when they were about 7 years old because they both love cats. It’s now become this very unique and wonderful holiday tradition for us, and even though our kids are both tweens now, they’re still just as excited to go again this year and so am I.”
A merry menagerie
While the show’s beloved groundhog guest star sadly recently died, its two rats, one chicken and 14 cats will be ready to entertain with various feats of acrobatics mixed with adorable tricks that can range from not quite death-defying, to straight trainer-defying.
“You’ll see me laughing at weird moments during the show because I’m having a conversation with the cats that nobody else is hearing,” said Martin.
“I can see a cat giving me a look like, ‘I don’t know, it doesn’t seem worth it. That seems like a tough trick for just a piece of chicken. What else ya got?’ We spend a lot on treats. They eat better than we do for sure,” she said.
In addition to entertaining, Martin is passionate about fostering and finding homes for homeless felines.
“I started fostering cats so that I could train a whole litter and then cherry-pick the ones that are the real performers,” she said. “That’s when I discovered that cats are dumped in shelters far more often than dogs, and I knew I could do something to help.”
All the Amazing Acro-Cats are rescues — including Dixie, Rue and St. Claude, who were adopted in New Orleans — and Martin brings additional cats and kittens to her performances that are available for adoption.
“I’ve found homes for about 310 kittens since 2009,” she said.
Part of Martin’s message in her shows is that cat training is something anyone can do, and is not only fun, but it can also help with problem behaviors and create a stronger bond between animal and human.
And, in some cases, as with Bowie the drummer, it can make you famous.
“Bowie actually is the Blue Buffalo cat food cat,” said Martin. “He’s on all the commercials for the Blue Buffalo canned food.
“They open the can, and the cat jumps up and there’s this whole sequence of him running down the stairs and jumping on the counter. He’s a very good actor. They changed his eye color to blue on the cans but it’s him. He’s famous now.
“Actually, maybe I should have him out signing some pawtograhs.”
AMAZING ACRO-CATS MEOWY CHRISTMAS
WHEN: Dec. 1-18
WHERE: Allways Lounge and Cabaret
2240 St. Claude Ave.
TICKETS: Purrrchased in advance: $40 general admission; $50 VICP (Very Important Cat Person). Tickets at the door add $5. Tickets for the first week (Dec. 1-4) discounted by $5. Tickets available at RockCatsRescue.org.