The only cat theater in the world, the Moscow Cats Theater is located at 25 Kutuzovsky Prospect in downtown Moscow, Russia. However, you don't have to travel all the way to Russia to enjoy their shows. The theater has traveled to over 80 countries, winning many awards - and hearts.
The Moscow Cats Theater was founded in 1990 by Yury Kuklachev, a well known professional clown who had been performing with cats at the Moscow State Circus for many years. The idea of including a cat in one of his circus acts first came to Kuklachev in 1976, when he had picked up a stray kitten in a park. The hungry kitten was actually doing tricks while begging for food, and Kuklachev thought he could use these talents at the circus. The kitten turned out to be a very good artist and performed with Kuklachev for over 20 years.
As time went by, the number of Kuklachev's furry artists grew; he had become the most famous cat trainer in the Soviet Union. Kids from all over the country loved watching "Uncle Yura" the clown and his cats. One of the best known acts was "Cat in the Pot," where Kuklachev was dressed as a cook, getting ready to prepare a meal. Suddenly, he would discover a cat hiding in one of the pots; he then proceeded to take the cat out and continue to cook, but as soon as he turned his back to the pot the cat would immediately climb back in. It went on and on, until the cat got ticked off and began chasing the cook around the circus arena - much to the delight of the viewers, young and old alike.
In 1988 Yury Kuklachev quit the circus, and in 1990 he opened the theater. Today, the Moscow Cats Theater has the "troupe" of 120 cats and four dogs. Most of the cats are former strays, Kuklachev continues to pick them up on the streets; some have been given him as gifts. The cats live comfortably at the theater, looked after by ten caretakers and four vets.
Each performance is more than just cats doing tricks; there is some underlying theme, a message, a story. "Lessons of kindness" Kuklachev calls them. In his numerous interviews, the renowned trainer states that he does not actually train the cats - he observes them, interacts with them, finds out what they like to do, and then creates performance acts that suit their talents.
Artistic jealousy is not uncommon in the whiskered troupe, says Kuklachev. When he has several cats being prepared for the same act, he never allows them to see each other's rehearsals - or there will be depressions and fights. Once, a very talented cat saw Kuklachev rehearsing his act with a different cat; he got upset and ran away.
If the Moscow Cats Theater ever comes to your area, treat yourself, and especially your kids, to their Lessons of Kindness. You will be amazed at what these cats can do. And perhaps you'll get lucky enough to be chosen by Yury Kuklachev to participate in some of the acts.