Ricky, our Devon Rex cat, was a TV star in the late 199os. That’s because Ricky could play a little kids piano and actually liked to get out of the house (on a harness and leash). He was social and actually enjoyed meeting other people and even dogs at his concert recitals. At the time, people were amazed that cats could be trained. Ricky also would sit when asked, give a high-five, jump over a series of dogs or kids laying down one by one, and literally jump through hoops. And, he played his “improvisational jazz” on a piano during all those TV appearances.
All this happened well before YouTube, so there’s little record of it online. Though, here’s one of those TV appearances from PBS—Pets: Part of the Family.
Samantha Martin took what I did and went much further. Samantha and her Amazing Acro-Cats demonstrate in a bigger way than I ever did what cats can do. Samantha travels across the country, her life is devoted to saving cats and adjusting public attitudes. She encourages and supports enrichment and training for cats in homes. She also supports fostering, rescue, and adoption. Since 2009, Samantha has rescued and found homes for 216 cats, and proceeds from her shows have helped local agencies in countless towns visited by her band of cats.
Until recently, Samantha called Chicago her home-base, and has been a devoted supporter of animal care and control. She (and her cats) have performed on the radio with me several times. This interview and performance is from October 2017 at WGN Radio.
Now this heartbreaking news:
If you are a cat lover, this is your chance to give back to someone who has given back to cats as much as anyone I know. This is the message from on a Go Fund Me page by Samantha:
“In January, I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer. It is serious, but treatable. I am scared, but determined to beat it. I have too much to do, too many cats to save to give up now. To complicate the issue even further, I broke my right foot while on tour last month. Now I have to wait until after I’ve completed the cancer treatment before they can operate on the foot.
The treatment plan calls for 6 weeks of radiation and chemo, followed by 6 weeks to let the treatment work in my body. I then face two more surgical procedures to remove the tumor and follow up. I’ll be weak, sick and, realistically, unable to tour for 6 months. While insurance will cover most of the medical expense, without income my major concern is for the animals that look to me for care.
If I’m unable to work for six months, I will have no income. I have to find a supplement source of funds to cover the food, shelter, vet bills and other operating expenses that need to be paid while I recover. We won’t know, until I’m going through treatment, how much physical strength I’ll have, so touring is not an option. Realistically, it could be more than six months before we can book tour dates and see an income stream again. I’m reaching out for your help.
We need to raise $50,000 to handle the cattery, vet bills, my living expenses, and other basic costs. It’s a lot, but we need to cover a long period of time when I’ll be physically unable to work. We are also setting up an Amazon Wish list for those who prefer to donate in a more specific way. Any donation is greatly appreciated. I don’t mind sharing that I’m afraid of what’s coming but I get by, each day, knowing how many friends and supporters are there for me. Please keep me and the cats in your thoughts as I go through this. I need all the help I can get. Please donate, share, and spread the word in any way you can.
Thank you and I love you all.”
My message to Samantha: “We love you back.”