Samantha Martin cracks a few jokes during her Acro-Cats show featuring The Rock Cats, including,  “I’m not going to tell you how many cats I actually live with. Yes, I’m single.” Over the course of an hour or two, you’ll watch at least a dozen cats that she has fostered perform agility tricks before finally ending the entertaining spectacle with….A ROCK SHOW!

We headed to North Hollywood after work one night to see these cats strut their stuff at the El Portal Theatre. While we sat in an auditorium fit for a high school assembly, we sipped on Tecates as we processed the sight of felines jumping through sparkly hoops, riding around on skateboards, hoisting flags, rolling balls over parallel ropes — and — a cat and chicken engaging in a bowling showdown.

Samantha, an expert animal trainer, redefines the human and animal bond by turning it into an art form. Cats posses the ability to adhere to healthy and effective click training techniques, and Samantha’s skill of coaxing this behavior out of them creates one of the most amazing and hilarious shows of all time. Positive reinforcements like Samantha’s result in long lasting and beneficial relationships, in turn, strengthening the rapport between the owner and, as Samantha likes to say, her “furr-ever friends”. One cat in particular, Alley, is even in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest jump ever made by a cat!

Let’s move on to my personal favorite part of the whole experience, though: cats in a rock band. With Oz on guitar, Dakota on drums, Nue on keyboards and Sookie on chimes, this is one musical performance that won’t be forgotten. However, The Rock Cats’ band manager and star of the whole show, Tuna, wowed the crowd with her independent attitude from start to finish. She delivered her tricks early on and received applause upon applause each and every time…but not before making it clear that she marches to the beat of her own drum (in this case, cowbell — she honestly might give Will Ferrell a run for his money). 

Samantha’s troupe is one of four cat shows to perform in front of sold out audience from coast to coast, and a generous percentage of her sales are donated to training awareness, adoptions and rescues throughout the entire country. One of the biggest components of Samantha’s career is her contagious passion that keeps driving her to foster and find permanent homes for those sweet kittens.

Under the loving eye of Samantha, strays and former orphans will keep traveling together as one giant family in their custom painted cat bus —  which I happened to see parked out on the street and immediately became enamored with before even walking through the theater doors. Once I laid eyes on that cat bus, I knew it was bound to be a good show.

All photos by Mario Herrera — @redb15!