Performing Arts

Rescuing Felines Brings Surprising Results

Acro-Cat Alley has leapt into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest cat jump. Photo by Sandra Rust

The passion of cat lovers is a force to be reckoned with, and it can seemingly work miracles in some cases. Take two special examples with events coming up in our region.

In 2010 the euthanasia rate in Haywood County’s Animal Shelter was well over 75 percent and there were more than 10,000 free-roaming homeless cats in the county. Enter four volunteers who shared a passion to save cats. Two years later, these “guardians of displaced felines” had created Feline Urgent Rescue of WNC (FUR). Not long after the nonprofit was formed, a 2,600-square-foot state-certified shelter was constructed through donations and volunteers. The sanctuary is located in Waynesville on three-and-a-half acres where rescued cats can roam free in a cage-free, two-story haven.

“Our few cages are used only for brief periods of quarantine,” said Jamie Powell, FUR cofounder. “We rescue, shelter, sterilize, rehabilitate and place many cats in permanent, loving homes. Any cat that is not adopted has a home at FUR.”

In another amazing story, Samantha Martin had been training animals since she was nine years old. In 2006, she rescued a pregnant cat, Luna, and one of her kittens, Tuna, showed an amazing amount of talent and natural ability.

Tuna became the inspiration and motivation behind the Amazing Acro-cats, a troupe of performing house cats. Using the magic of clicker training, a stress-free positive reinforcement method, Martin has been able to take her cats on the road, and they’ve been pouncing into people’s hearts as they tour the nation’s stages in the Acro-cat bus.

“Clicker training creates a stronger bond with cats and their owners, as well as helping to eliminate behavioral issues cats sometimes have,” says Martin, who has not only rescued her own pets, but also has found happy homes for more than 200 homeless cats and kittens.

The Amazing Acro-cats’ grand finale features an all-cat band with Oz on guitar, Asti on drums, Nue on keyboard, Ahi and Albacore on cowbell and woodblocks, Buggles on trumpet, and even a chicken, Cluck Norris, rockin’ the tambourine. A portion of the proceeds always benefits mobile foster and rescue efforts.

On Saturday, May 6, from 5–8 p.m., Bosu’s Wine Shop in Waynesville hosts a wine tasting benefit for FUR at 138 Miller Street. Cost is $30 per person. The Amazing Acro-cats will perform at the Diana Wortham Theatre at 2 South Pack Square on Sunday, May 7, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $19-39. For more information visit and 

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