Caturday felid: Russian cat circus

November 3, 2012 • 7:00 am

Cats can’t be trained? Well, certainly not as thoroughly as can dogs, but have a look at the Moscow Cat Theater (which occasionally tours the U.S.), and see what the moggies can do.

Yes, I know noms are involved (how could they not be?), but still—a cat walking on its forelegs?

You can see more antics of the Russian cats by looking for “Russian cat circus” on YouTube.

Posting will be light today (unless my pinch-bloggers step up); we have a full day of meetings in Mexico City.

29 thoughts on “Caturday felid: Russian cat circus

  1. That cat circus is a lot of fun — or, at least, the videos I’ve seen of it are.

    I think Baihu would be every bit as trick-trainable as most any dog, were he and I so inclined. He’s doing quite well on the leash, for example, and it’s not hard to get him to come to me, to get him to jump up on my shoulders, that sort of thing.

    He’s also got me quite well trained: there’s no mistraking, for example, when it’s meal time, when it’s time for a walk, when it’s time for a belly rub, when it’s time to play, and so on.


    1. Yeah, sure. When you manage to train him to magically appear in front of visitors let me know. And I know that you are so inclined.

      It doesn’t count as a trick, if, you know, nobody sees it…

      1. Working on it!

        Just this morning on our walk, I had a quick conversation with a guy on the other side of the street about the merits of walking cats; his neighbor walks hers, and his cat follows along.

        Baihu remained on my shoulders the whole time without panicking.

        Did I mention? The guy was on the other side of the street….


  2. I notice the cats are all white, and I wonder if they are all deaf, too. I would think the noise of the circus music would spook most cats with normal hearing.

  3. My cat comes when she’s called by name, understands and generally if sometimes creatively responds to the word “no” and definitely reacts to withering stares. Plus litter tray training of course.

    I’m not sure why anyone would want to train a cat to do much more. They are definitely more entertaining when left to their own devices.

    1. That’s it, exactly.

      One trains an animal in order to exert control over it, to bend it to your will.

      But it’s much more fulfilling for both to enter into a give-and-take relationship with a cat. Set the same sorts of boundaries you’d want any other member of the household to observe, but then also grant the cat the same freedom you would to others, and pay attention to the cat’s desires as you normally would.


  4. I saw this when I went to the circus in Moscow – it was quite spectacular! My favorite part of the show. It seems as though each cat only has to learn one or two tricks, and isn’t put through too much strain as far as performance time. You can tell they are highly treat motivated.

    I’d much rather see cats and dogs performing cool tricks at a circus than bears and horses and such… seeing the bears at the circus in Moscow made me really sad.

  5. I just noticed: the back of the guy’s jersey reads, “Russia,” and not, “Россия.”

    Are there any Russians out there who might be able to shed some light on this?


    1. Well, curiously enoughy, in our Jap-import cars (background: New Zealand drives on the left, like Japan, and due to the respective tax structures, youngish used Japanese cars are worth much more in NZ than Japan so there’s an import trade); as I said, our Jap-model cars have all the dashboard intruments and switches labelled in English. I find this odd.

      The fuse box, on the other hand, is in Japanese.

  6. Was that My darling Clementine they used for the soundtrack?

    How long before the Fundies hire these guys to herd atheists?

  7. I’m convinced that Mr Moggie there has his owner trained to dress up and try to convince other humans that cats will do tricks on command. I also wonder if he throws him a fish after the show?

  8. Execrable music for sure, but the cats did not look silly despite their being trained. In fact, their abundant, feline sensuality graced the humans, making these normally clumsy creatures look almost lithe. 🙂

  9. Saw them somewhere on the northside of Chicago a few years back. There were a few flubs in the show, but… with the pro-cat audience we were with, they could have blown-off half the performance and we wouldn’t have cared. We were amazed they got them to do anything on cue.

  10. Somone may put me right, but isn’t the training of dogs a matter of exploiting their nature as pack animals; their trainer is effectively the leader of the pack. Cats have no pack nature but maybe training them must exploit the mechanism whereby a mother cat trains it;s kittens to hunt. I’ve noticed that so much of catm behaviour is an image of mother-kitten interaction. Sorry if this nuclear physicist has his biology mixed up!

    1. No, following your helpful suggestion we have performed numerous experiments and there is no way a dog can climb like that, not even in a cat suit and with a taser applied where it does the most good.


      Doctor EvilCat

    1. Can’t speak to THAT show, don’t know if the one we saw was affiliated with that group or not. It was quite clear that ours were not abused cats. The invited the first few rows of the audience to meet-and-greet the cats *before* the show, a couple of lucky people *during* the show and they had several cats out in the lobby where they were selling CD’s *after* the show. The cats we saw were happy and content and either did their tricks… or did not, depending on their mood.

      1. That was in the back of my mind watching the video but, so far as I could tell, those kittehs didn’t look in any way reluctant or depressed such as you might expect them to look if they’d been abused or forced into performing.

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