May 2009

Excerpt from "Mission Impossible"
by Kristin A. Grant

Amazing Tricks Some cats can adeptly leap through rings of fire and balance on hight wires. Cat trainer Doninique LeFort of Dominique's Circus Cats wows Key West visitors with sunset cat shows in Mallory Square. His felines faithfully follow every command, from gliding through hoops to jumping and staying on his shoulder.

Dominique uses many types of techniques to command his cats, from facial expressions to verbal requests to gestures. In addition, he says he does not frequently use food as rewards since the cats are part of a show.

"Start with what they like to de," he says. "One of my cats, Chopin, loves to follow me around, so we developed a trick where he walks between my legs three times. They love to play."

Dominique says the key to training cats is developing a bond with them. He also explains that cats have an innate ability to focus on prey, and it's that same ability to focus that enables him to do the trick.

George, Chopin and Mandarine
Photo by Valerie Eikenberg