Arleth has been performing her act, Cirque Du Sewer, in fairs across the nation, including Waxahachie's Scarborough Faire, since about 2008, with the cat's cooperation. But during her Gong Show performance, the cat got spooked by the live band, Arleth says.
"The cat did really well in all of the rehearsals, but I think specifically it was the live band," she says. "I should have thought it."
After she retrieves the cat, she balances it on her head while standing on pointe and juggling knives.
But how the cat got on her head wasn't part of the plan.
Typically, the cat hops on her leg as she does a backward roll before standing up to get on her head. But because the cat was not being cooperative that day, she had to improvise.
"I wasn't planning on just shoving him up there and juggling, but I was trying to get it all over with as quickly as possible," she says.
Arleth sent The Gong Show a promo video of her act with a cat and rats as an audition to get on the show. After a few Skype calls, she landed the gig. Arleth, a fan of the original Gong Show, says she appreciates that it celebrates variety, unlike other competition shows.
"I thought it was really fun and really silly, and I've been turning down America's Got Talent for years," she says. "But I thought it would be really neat if there was a show that actually was showcasing variety and not just mocking, which is pretty much what America's Got Talent seems to do."
She's known variety performers who have gone on America's Got Talent and had bad experiences, she says, but her fear of being mocked on The Gong Show wasn't as big.
"I had a better feeling about it, and I enjoyed the old show because they actually celebrated the ridiculous stuff," she says. "So it turned out to be very positive experience."
Arleth was not gonged, which is when a judge hits a giant gong to automatically eliminate a contestant. Instead, judges Will Arnett, Chelsea Handler and Ken Marino gave her cat act scores of 7, 10 and 8, respectively. She says The Gong Show invited her back for another episode to perform her act with rats. That episode's air date is to be determined.