ASK PLAYBILL.COM: A Question About the Prevalence of Cats on Stage

By Robert Simonson
25 Mar 2013


Breakfast at Tiffany's co-star Chessie.
photo by Monica Simoes/Breakfast at Tiffany's

Dogs and cats, as you might suspect, make for very different employees. "Dogs are the only species of animal that voluntarily walked into man's life millions of years ago," explained Berloni. "They live in social groups, so they're easier to work with in terms of wanting to please us and be part of a social group. Felines are independent hunters and have no real reason to work for anybody but themselves."

So how do you make a cat do your bidding on stage?

"You don't," replied Berloni.

"Whenever I get a cat job," he continued, "I find a cat with atypical feline behaviors. Basically, a cat who thinks he's a dog; a cat who would be a social outcast in the cat world. But those cats are like one in a thousand. You really have to look for that cat. And you usually build the behaviors in the play around what the cat's natural abilities are."

Once you've found the cat, the real work begins. "Then you need a cat who will go out in public and do that," he said. "Which, again, goes against the grain. They'd rather be solitary and hidden. It's against their nature."

"The notion that you can force any types of creature to do man's will," he added, speaking from years of experience, "is kind of ludicrous."

Do we not see many cats in many plays because playwrights, directors and producers know cats are hard to work with, and thus avoid including them in stage stories? "The smart ones do," said Berloni.

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