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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Circus is not like herding cats; it is herding cats
BY DIANE TOROIAN KEAGGY • www.STLtoday.com
January 30, 2011
The cat circus business makes for a decent living but a terrible social life. Since starting the Amazing Acro-Cat Circus, Chicago animal trainer Samantha Martin can't get a date.
"It's killed my social life," said Martin, who lives in a three-story house with about 100 pets. "Most guys think a single woman with more than two cats is a whole boatload of crazy. If I have a date, I don't want him to come to the house. I want to meet him at the corner."
Martin is bringing 15 cats plus some rats, chickens and a groundhog to 2720 Cherokee for a two-night stand. Typically a nightclub, 2720 Cherokee welcomes families for this show.
Martin's animals play music, walk the tightrope, balance on basketballs and eat fire. OK, not the fire part. But Martin believes any cat can be trained to do almost anything. She motivates her cats with a clicker and lightly seared tuna, still pink on the inside.
"Dogs are a little more willing to work for praise, while cats are shrewder negotiators," she said. "They want their favorite food. But they really are brilliant. They quickly realize that a little noise will earn them a reward. Once they catch on, they love it. It enhances the bond between us and our cats, gives us a common language."
Martin started teaching her cats tricks as a way to keep her cats' brains sharp between advertising and acting jobs. (Two of her cats soon will appear in a Tidy Cat ad.) Soon she was taking the show on the road in a 33-foot-long RV. Almost all of her pets are stray or rescue animals; she's fostered about 100 cats in the past two years.
"The challenging part is getting them to perform in front of a live crowd in a strange place," Martin said. "They can get distracted. High heels, clowns, squeaking doors — there a lot of things that will blow up a show, but that becomes part of the fun."
read more at:http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/article_e7cbfb02-2f97-565a-9fd3-87250c39ce02.html

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