By Crystal C. Long | Photos by Charlie Nunn Photography
The Savitsky Cats team really knows how to think outside the box. Originally from Ukraine, the Savitsky Cats recently rose to fame as quarter-finalists in Season 13 of the popular tv show, “America’s Got Talent.” The Ukraine transplants, now living in glitzy LA, are solely a family-run operation. A large 12-member team, The Savitsky Cats team is made up from a team of three talented humans: a mother-daughter duo, Svitlana (mom) and Maryna; and Maryna’s brother Misha; and their nine talented cats (yes, you heard that right, nine!). Just like any other family, these furry siblings have very different personalities that sets them apart — they are Ulia, the “energizer”; Dasha, the “diva”; Asia, “Miss Independent”; Chupa, the “Beauty Queen”; Topa; the “Boss”; Linda, “Smarty”; Eddy, “Doggy Cat”; Tosha, the only boy; and last but not least, Mickey, the “Cutie”.
Nowadays, the oh-so-adorable team of nine cats and their two human trainers are used to the spotlight, but these fluffy felines all come from humble beginnings. Cat trainer Maryna tells Pet Lifestyles Magazine, “All our cats are rescued and adopted. Topa was saved from a dog attack on the streets. Ulia was supposed to die, because her cat-mother refused to feed her so she was very weak. We fed and treated her intensively, and now she is 14 years old.” Every cat that was adopted to become a Savitsky Cat has landed the adoption jackpot with Maryna and team — the family takes exceptionally good care of the talented felines while giving them a new sense of purpose and belonging. “Every cat has its own story of appearing in our life.” Maryna says.
It is this love and concern for cats that originated The Savitsky Cats, a performing troupe of hugely-adorable and fluffy team of cats trained by Maryna and Svitlana to perform a wide range of tricks (think a circus, but with cute cats). Maryna owes it all her mother for the inspiration behind The Savitsky Cats: “Everything started from my mom’s childhood dream. All her life she was surrounded by cats, they accompanied her all the time. She always adored cats: the way they behave, think, and how smart and independent they are. And when she grew up, her dream transforms into reality: cats traveling and performing all over the world.” It is this love for cats that also made the decision of training cats instead of dogs a no-brainer. We all know dogs can be trained, but we never think of cats being trainable, and to this, the mother-daughter duo couldn’t disagree more. “Dogs and cats have different philosophies about everything, including humans” Maryna said. “Dogs wants to please, and cats say “make me”, but cats are very smart and they are smart enough not to show it all the time. Every cat has its own personality and character - you need to find the way to communicate with each cat.”
The team learned how to train cats through a lifetime of spending time with the amazing felines — ranging from one to fourteen years old, Maryna and Svitlana know the best way to train their nine cats inside and out. “You cannot force a cat to do anything unless she wants to do it,” she says “That’s why the most important thing in starting training is observation. You should observe how your cat behaves and get know their character. You can play with a cat and see how she acts during this time, and you will see where to start.” As independent as the personalities of cats are, Maryna and Svitlana understand they have to work with them at their own willingness — and understanding that little tidbit is a big part of what being a great cat trainer is. The bottom line is this: the most important thing to know about training cats is to truly understand the cats’ behavior and mood, and then act accordingly. The team’s main method to training cats is definitely all in-favor of the cats, and simply going along with what they are naturally good at. She elaborates: “Each of our cats know approximately up to 15 difficult performing tricks. From their childhood, we teach them as many tricks as possible paying attention to their capabilities, and later we see what tricks they like more than others. It’s not about what favorite tricks we like them to do, it’s up to the cats what their favorite trick is. When a cat chooses her favorite trick to do, it becomes our favorite trick too.”
But in The Savitsky Cats family, not only are the cats diligent, the humans on the team are equally as diligent. It takes two to tango, (or in this case, to put on an elaborate performance of cats doing tricks) so let’s not forget the trainers’ performance: other than the entertaining tricks each feline can perform, Maryna and Svitlana also formulate all the performance details of each show — and their hard work and perseverance have certainly paid off, as they sat in the place of quarter-finalists on America’s Got Talent Season 13. “We saw how talented our cats were, so we came up with the favorite tricks of our cats and started to share with our family, friends, and soon with bigger audience and now we are performing all over the world.” Maryna states.
However, even experienced cat-trainers like Maryna and Svitlana have their share of difficulties. Maryna tells Pet Lifestyles Magazine about the toughest part of their job: “The most difficult part is to get the cats acquainted with their surroundings: with the different environments (shops, parks, stages) and with other people.” She stresses the important of overcoming this hurdle as this is a big part of training, especially when these talented cats perform in front of, say, a few thousand people — as they did when they performed at the NY Knicks halftime show. The team does everything they can to build up their little performers’ confidence, “They should not be afraid of anything, and be comfortable with music, noise, and people. That’s why we have a cat stroller. We put the cats inside and walk them a lot when we go shopping, or just walk on the streets or the parks.” Catch the Savitsky Cats at the Big Apple Circus this Fall-Winter season and at the Cat Fanciers Association International Cat Show in Cleveland, Ohio in October.
Maryna, Svitlana, and Misha have dedicated their whole lives to The Savitsky Cats. It took years of love, dedication, and hard-work to get to where they are today, but one thing is for sure — a cat can indeed be trained. Take it from the pros, all you need is five things: time & patience, trust, a gentle hand, some good observation skills, and treats…lots of treats. With 41,000,000 plus YouTube views, The Savitsky Cats are quickly climbing to the top: And these amazing little darlings have certainly captured the animal-loving heart of America. Watch out for one of their performances — we guarantee you won’t be able to resist these cute talented kitties!