Animal lover and trainer Samantha Martin has had a way with small animals since she was 10.
The Chicago native started training rats to do tricks in 2006 and not long after, developed a show around her rodents.
"I just couldn't make a living with a rat show. So then I had to add other animals," said Martin. "The second most requested animals are cats (behind dogs)."
Martin turned to training her own house cats to get them in on the act. Her 11 year-old white feline named "Tuna" became the inspiration and star of the Amazing Acro-Cats show, which features 13 felines, two chickens, one groundhog and four rats.
Tuna has had star power since she was a kitten. She was once a poster cat, gracing the bag of Nutro Max kitten food. She walks a tight rope with ease and eats up the attention performing in front of a crowd.
The animal show's maiden voyage to Philadelphia is this weekend. The show takes center stage at the Painted Bride.
Tuna and her mates jump hoops, roll barrels, push shopping carts, repel ropes and play in a cat rock band called "The Rock Cats."
"It's quite a mind blower," said Martin. "The band is not that great but the visual of it all is pretty amazing."
Yeah, picture cats on guitar, drums, piano and tambourine. Martin said it took her three months to teach one of the cats to play the guitar. The show has taken off and people show up in droves to see them.
Martin and her assistant, Christine Radochonski, travel from city to city in a bus with her animals. The show has been on a steady tour for the last four years, heading south each winter.
Unexpectedly, their bus broke down in Pittsburgh last week resulting in a cancellation of Thursday night's Painted Bride show. An additional Sunday evening show has been added to the Philly stop. The travel snag slowed them down on their first northeastern tour, which includes later stops in Canada.
Cat lovers of all ages, and mostly cat loving adults, flock to the show. In addition to animal tricks, there's an educational component including the history of cats and cat stories.
"I hope the show will inspire people to go home and train their little fluffy," said Martin.
Ticket information for the Acro-Cats can be found here.