Public attitudes towards feral cats vary widely, ranging from seeing them as free-ranging pets, to regarding them as vermin. One common approach to reducing the feral cat population is termed 'trap-neuter-return', where the cats are trapped, neutered, immunized against diseases such as rabies and the feline Panleukopenia and Leukemia viruses, and then released. Before releasing them back into their feral colonies, the attending veterinarian often nips the tip off one ear to mark it as neutered and inoculated, since these cats may be trapped again. Volunteers continue to feed and give care to these cats throughout their lives. Given this support, their lifespans are increased, and behavior and nuisance problems caused by competition for food are reduced.
After the overture, the cats gather on stage and describe the Jellicle tribe and its purpose ("Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats"). The cats (who break the fourth wall throughout the show) then notice that they are being watched by a human audience, and proceed to explain how the different cats of the tribe are named ("The Naming of Cats"). This is followed by a ballet solo performed by Victoria to signal the beginning of the Jellicle Ball ("The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball"). At this moment, Munkustrap, the show's main narrator, explains that tonight the Jellicle patriarch Old Deuteronomy will make an appearance and choose one of the cats to be reborn into a new life on the Heaviside Layer.
Cats is completely told through music with no dialogue in between the songs, although there are occasions when the music accompanies spoken verse. Lloyd Webber's compositions employ an eclectic range of musical styles so as to magnify the characters' contrasting personalities. For example, the rebellious Rum Tum Tugger is introduced with a rock song ("The Rum Tum Tugger"); the fallen Grizabella is accompanied by a dramatic operatic aria ("Grizabella: The Glamour Cat"); Old Deuteronomy makes his grand entrance to a lullaby-turned-anthem ("Old Deuteronomy"); and Gus' nostalgia for the past is reflected through an old-fashioned music hall number ("Gus: The Theatre Cat"). Many of the songs are pastiches of their respective genres, which Snelson attributes to the show's origins as a song cycle:
November 1985 saw the premiere of a Norwegian-language production at Det Norske Teatret in Oslo. It closed in January 1987 and included performers such as Øivind Blunck, Brit Elisabeth Haagensli and Øystein Wiik. Jorma Uotinen directed and choreographed a Finnish production at the Helsinki City Theatre that ran for over two years from September 1986 to December 1988, and featured Monica Aspelund as Grizabella, Heikki Kinnunen as Gus, and Kristiina Elstelä as Jennyanydots/Griddlebone. A Swedish version of the musical opened in 1987 at the Chinateatern in Stockholm. The production was seen by 326,000 audiences before it transferred to the Scandinavium in Gothenburg two years later.
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Cats have seven cervical vertebrae (as do most mammals); 13 thoracic vertebrae (humans have 12); seven lumbar vertebrae (humans have five); three sacral vertebrae (as do most mammals, but humans have five); and a variable number of caudal vertebrae in the tail (humans have only vestigial caudal vertebrae, fused into an internal coccyx).:11 The extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat's spinal mobility and flexibility. Attached to the spine are 13 ribs, the shoulder, and the pelvis. :16 Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle bones which allow them to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their head.
Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felid species, with a strong flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp teeth and retractable claws adapted to killing small prey. They are predators who are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. Compared to humans, they see better in the dark (they see in near total darkness) and have a better sense of smell, but poorer color vision. Cats, despite being solitary hunters, are a social species. Cat communication includes the use of vocalizations including meowing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting as well as cat-specific body language. Cats also communicate by secreting and perceiving pheromones.