10 Facts About “Cats” the Musical Just in Time for the Movie Adaptation


If you’re a Broadway fan of a certain age, then Cats was probably part of your life (and possibly your identity) growing up. You might not even have realized how inherently strange it is because it’s just always been a thing.

If you’re not a Broadway fan (or you’re a new or younger fan) then you, like the rest of the non-theatre world, may have been introduced to Cats when the trailer for the film adaptation recently released.

Honestly, no matter where you fall on this scale of Cats awareness, that trailer probably scarred you for life. I know it did me.

If you’re now curious about this whole singing, dancing cat-people thing, here are 10 facts for you:

10. One audience member sued the production for $6 million.


Live performances of Cats involves audience interaction, a treat that one fan definitely didn’t welcome back in 1996.

Tugger, played by David Hibbard, allegedly “gyrated his pelvis” in audience member Evelyn Amato’s face, an act that led her to sue the production and its creative team for $6 million.

9. It’s based on a collection of T.S. Eliot poems that originally was supposed to include dogs, too.

Eliot published Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats in 1939, and the lighthearted offering has been delighting cat-lovers for generations.

At first, he thought the book would contain poems inspired by dogs and cats, but in the end, he figured that dogs just didn’t lend themselves as well to poetry, and that it would be “improper to wrap them up with dogs.”

8. The show gave T.S. Eliot a posthumous Tony.


Even though Eliot died in 1965, the fact that most of the songs are verbatim recitations of his poems means he’s listed as their lyricist – thus, earning him a Tony in 1983.

7. Andrew Lloyd Weber is not a “cat person.”

The author of the play describes himself as “quite neutral” toward cats, but thought the poems were perfect for a daring West End soundtrack.

6. The original production used 3000 pounds of yak hair.


All major productions of Cats use yak hair to craft their wild feline costumes – which run around $2300 each these days – and costumes are tailored to the actor.

That means that each actor needs a new product, and is the reason the first Broadway production (that ran 18 years) used 3247 pounds of yak hair in total.

A full grown yak, in case you’re curious, weighs around 2200 pounds.

5. Dame Judi Dench was supposed to play in Cats in London, but never got the chance.

She was cast as Grizabella in a West End production in 1981, but tore her Achilles tendon before the show opened.

Fun fact: she was replaced by Elaine Paige (from Evita).

4. But she will star in the movie.


Nearly 40 years alter, Dench is starring as the wise and beloved Old Deuteronomy (Jennifer Hudson will play Grizabella).

3. Weber had to take out a second mortgage to get Cats through its initial run.

Andrew Lloyd Weber had won both success and acclaim with Jesus Christ Superstar, but when he wanted to open Cats, he had a hard time finding investors. Why? Choreographer Gillian Lynne has some thoughts:

“It was very, very difficult to finance because everyone said, ‘A show about cats? You must be raving mad.”

It fell so short of its fundraising goals that Weber took out a second mortgage in order to get it off the ground.

2. The late Grumpy Cat once made a cameo.

Before his untimely death (may he rest in peace), Grumpy Cat made a cameo in the show on Broadway.

1. It set records on both sides of the Atlantic.

The original London production ran for 21 years, making it (at the time) the longest running musical in West End history – a title it handed over to Les Mis in 2006.

On Broadway, the show was performed 6138 times, making it the longest running show on Broadway.

You may still never understand, but at least now you’re informed!