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Animals have always been a big part of magic’s history. The Lady into Tiger illusion is a classic, and big cats have been synonymous with stage magic for decades. But what about little ones? The household cat? Well, I don’t really work with animals in my magic, but I did work with one very special one, and if you care to hear about it, I would like to recall a tale about card spinning and a cat that I hope you will all find amusing.

I’ve been into card spinning and throwing for almost 15 years now. I bought Rickey Jay’s CARDS AS WEAPONS in the late 80’s and was hooked ever since. My friends and I threw cards everywhere we went. We would have contests and leave dozens of card wherever we went. We used to put goggles on and have shirtless, bloody battles with them on rainy weekends. My non-magician friend Glenn is the best card thrower I have ever known. He could shave your ear off at 100 feet with one eye shut. We were once throwing cards with Jim Karol (the current Guinness World record card thrower) at Clark University and even HE couldn’t throw cards as far or as accurate as my friend. I came close. Anyhow, on with the tale…

For awhile when I used to practice throwing and spinning cards, my cat, Puschkin, would leap for the cards. It became a kind game we played, and after awhile he actually began to catch them with his front paws in mid-air. He made a perfect catch probably once every five times. I then thought what an amazing trick it would be to have a spectator’s chosen card fly out of the deck and be caught in mid-air by my cat!

I got to work right away; training the cat the best I could by associating a successful catch with a yummy kitty cat treat, and by getting him all excited by verbal prompts and noises. I experimented with different spinning methods, hoping that something like hot shot might be more dramatic, but the cat didn’t like it and it just didn’t have the right angle. I decided I would have to settle for Audley Walsh’s long distance spinner. It worked best if the cat was about 8 to 10 feet away. The shot needed to be pretty precise; four feet off the ground. It needed to be shot directly over his head, high enough for him to get a good jump in. If the shot was off, he wouldn’t even bother going for it, and the card would just flutter to the floor and he would look at me stupidly. But we practiced for several weeks and after awhile had it down pretty well. He was getting it first try almost every time.

I waited until a barbeque party at my house on the Fourth of July, and while in my living room, gathered everyone around to see an astounding magic trick. As a dozen or so people looked on (including my boss at the time as well as my girlfriends parents), I had a card selected and returned to the deck. I gave the deck a quick shuffle then made the following announcement:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am about to perform the most amazing card trick that you will ever witness in your lives. You will be telling your grandchildren about this one, I kid you not. First, I need my magical counterpart to assist me… Please let me introduce to you, The Amazing Felini!”

I hushed everyone in the room and I made the high-pitched whistling sound that awakes my cat from slumber in search of a yummy kitty treat. Little did the audience know that I had not fed the cat all day up until this point and he was starving. I had also previously attached a sparkly red cape with a large “F” on it, to his collar.

So out from the basement comes running to the center of the room my cat, red cape flowing and all. People were dying with laughter. It got so noisy that the poor cat almost freaked out and booked, but he was too darn hungry. I quieted everyone down, and with deck in one hand and cat treat palmed in the other, my cat took his position in the center of the room waiting patiently to catch a flying card and get a yummy treat.

“I will attempt, not only to find your card with an amazing one handed cut, but your card will fly out of the deck, sail across the room, and be caught in mid air, by my counterpart, the Amazing Felini!”

More laughter, but this one was tense with disbelief and what could be considered pity.
“Silence, please! Now, for the first time, please NAME YOUR CARD!”

The somewhat concerned spectator said, “the four of clubs.”

A hush fell over the room. The cat salivated. I stood in dramatic pose for a brief moment… and then…. a quick pivot cut and ZZZZZZING! Out goes one card flying across the room! The audience stares in disbelief! I am moments away from stardom! This is truly the most amazing card trick I have ever done in my life!!!!

I wish I could tell you that the Amazing Felini leaped into the air and snatched that baby right out like a pro and made me a star that day. I wish I could tell you how beautiful it was and conclude this tale with the victory of my success, but as we all know in magic, all that glitters is not gold. The sad reality is that the cat did absolutely nothing and the card bounced off the back well and fell behind the entertainment center. Through it all the Amazing Felini just sat there and looked at me as if to say, “Feed me, you idiot.” Bummer.

But I didn’t give up. I continued to perform it over the years whenever there was a gathering or party at my house. It did eventually work. It worked maybe one time out of every five or six times I tried it. That means for every couple times it didn’t work, there was a one where a few people witnessed a miracle of ridiculous proportion. We were successful in our presentation about a total of maybe half a dozen times. Yes, there are people out there who have seen my cat snatch their selected card right out of the air, and still talk about it to this day, but it was never so primed like that first night we attempted it, and I never had such a prestigious audience. One of my big regrets in my magical past is that it didn’t work that first night when everything was just right. But at least I tried.

Puschkin was killed several years ago by a speeding car right in front of our home. My wife found him, and I sadly haven't thought much about him until this moment. I miss that darn cat, he was a cool pet and a good friend.

Our new cat has no interest in flying cards. Can I blame him? Animals, like people, are unique and possess their own quirks and personalities. I guess I was lucky to have had a cat like Puschkin. You just have to play whatever cards you are dealt in life and seize the moment.

So if you EVER hear of a tale of an amazing card trick where a guy sends a card spinning out of the deck and it was caught in mid air by his cat, that was me. It’s no urban legend, it’s not fiction. That was US.

Hope you found this to be amusing. Thanks for reading.
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Eric Grossman
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Beautiful story, thanks for sharing it. Smile
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Profile of Greenshock
Hey Fingerjack,
Your story was so heartwarming that it has inspired me to start training my Sea-Monkeys (They're all named "Dave"). Thanks
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Profile of thelastdoctor

Great story. No, I haven't heard it here in the midwest.

I did hear the one about a cat on a tramp steamer that saved the crew from canibals with a very well done version of the linking ring.

Thanks again.

The Last Doctor

P.S. "Two things young Skywalker, never shave a cat or depend on a trained cat" Darth Vader in Star Wars 27 "Cats in Space; the musical"
The Last Doctor

I’m always looking for the perfect pint or sugar free Jelly Babies...
Lonnie Dilan
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oh man, that is a good story man...I wish I could have seen that.
Paul S
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That was a most excellent tail. I had a stuffed cat once, and whenever we were in a large enough room I'd swing it around and shout "There's enough room in here!"

Thanks for a great post there fingerjack, beautiful story.
Michael Peterson
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I can classic force cards on my cat Raven (it doesn't work so great on people though), but Puschkin sounds much more amazing.

Jason Fleming
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That was an awesome story.

Even the premise had me laughing.

Burt Yaroch
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Smile Man when you said "barbeque" and "jumping cat" I thought that story was going in an entirely different direction.
Geoff Williams
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Profile of Geoff Williams
My cat does mentalism.

Actually, now that I think about it, ALL cats do mentalism. In fact, Max Maven is supposedly 1/4 cat (hey, it's what I read in alt.magic).
"Saját légpárnás tele van angolnák."

(Hungarian for "My hovercraft is full of eels")
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Profile of DoctorAmazo
I see the problem. Even Pushkin knew you were supposed to force the THREE of Clubs, not the 4!
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