The real ‘Cats’


There will be no singing of “Memory” when these cats perform.

Forgive those of us who aren’t exactly cat people for not jumping up and down, but the Moscow Cats Theatre is heading for San Francisco.
Some 30 feline thespians — yes real cats — and two dogs and (ugh) six clowns will perform routines such as “Cats from Outer Space” (can’t be as funny as the Muppets’ “Pigs in Outer Space”) and “Nutcracker.”

Formed in Russia in 1990, this furry troupe (well, maybe the clowns aren’t furry) has performed around the world in more than 80 countries. Perhaps you saw them on “Live with Regis and Kelly” or on “Good Morning America.”

And here you thought cats couldn’t be bothered to be trained to do anything. Give Yuri Dmitrievich Kuklachev credit for coming up with the idea for a cat circus in 1971 (“Hey, let’s put those darn lazy cats to work!”). Kuchlachev, who was a Moscow State Circus clown, was nursing back to health a malnourished stray kitten he had rescued from the streets. He noticed the cat doing somersaults while begging for food and was soon performing with the little furball, whom he named Strekla.

Kuklachev says that by watching a cat’s natural behaviors and “rewarding them with love,” he could build an act.

The Moscow Cats Theatre is at the Palace of Fine Arts April 7 and 8 and 28 and 29. Tickets are $49.90 to $58.90. Call (415) 978-2787 or visit www.moscowcatstheatre.com.

Now see the magic for yourself: