Back in the present, after Gus exits, Skimbleshanks is seen sleeping in the corner ("Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat"). He is the cat who is unofficially in charge of the night train to Glasgow. Skimbleshanks is considered vital to the rail operations, as without him "the train can't start". Within his song, a whole steam train engine is assembled out of objects in the junkyard.
An alternative word is English puss (extended as pussy and pussycat). Attested only from the 16th century, it may have been introduced from Dutch poes or from Low German puuskatte, related to Swedish kattepus, or Norwegian pus, pusekatt. Similar forms exist in Lithuanian puižė and Irish puisín or puiscín. The etymology of this word is unknown, but it may have simply arisen from a sound used to attract a cat.
Some of the same factors that have promoted adaptive radiation of island avifauna over evolutionary time appear to promote vulnerability to non-native species in modern time. The susceptibility of many island birds is undoubtedly due to evolution in the absence of mainland predators, competitors, diseases, and parasites, in addition to lower reproductive rates and extended incubation periods. The loss of flight, or reduced flying ability is also characteristic of many island endemics. These biological aspects have increased vulnerability to extinction in the presence of introduced species, such as the domestic cat. Equally, behavioral traits exhibited by island species, such as "predatory naivety" and ground-nesting, have also contributed to their susceptibility.
Vitamin D3 is a dietary requirement for cats as they lack the ability to synthesize vitamin D3 from sunlight. Cats obtain high levels of the enzyme 7-dehydrocholestrol delta 7 reductase which causes immediate conversion of vitamin D3 from sunlight to 7-dehydrocholesterol. This fat soluble vitamin is required in cats for bone formation through the promotion of calcium retention, along with nerve and muscle control through absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
The earliest known indication for a tamed African wildcat was excavated close by a human grave in Shillourokambos, southern Cyprus, dating to about 9,200 to 9,500 years before present. As there is no evidence of native mammalian fauna on Cyprus, the inhabitants of this Neolithic village most likely brought the cat and other wild mammals to the island from the Middle Eastern mainland. Scientists therefore assume that African wildcats were attracted to early human settlements in the Fertile Crescent by rodents, in particular the house mouse (Mus musculus), and were tamed by Neolithic farmers. This commensal relationship between early farmers and tamed cats lasted thousands of years. As agricultural practices spread, so did tame and domesticated cats. Wildcats of Egypt contributed to the maternal gene pool of the domestic cat at a later time. The earliest known evidence for the occurrence of the domestic cat in Greece dates to around 1200 BC. Greek, Phoenician, Carthaginian and Etruscan traders introduced domestic cats to southern Europe. By the 5th century BC, it was a familiar animal around settlements in Magna Graecia and Etruria. Domesticated cats were introduced to Corsica and Sardinia during the Roman Empire before the beginning of the 1st millennium. The Egyptian domestic cat lineage is evidenced in a Baltic Sea port in northern Germany by the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.
The first UK and Ireland tour opened in May 1989 at the Opera House Theatre in Blackpool. The cast for this tour included Marti Webb as Grizabella, Rosemarie Ford as Bombalurina and John Partridge as Alonzo. Following a six-month engagement in Blackpool that broke the theatre's box office record and was seen by around 450,000 people, the production moved to the Edinburgh Playhouse for three months, before closing in May 1990 after another two months at the Point Theatre in Dublin. A second national tour launched in June 1993 at the Bristol Hippodrome, featuring Rosemarie Ford as Grizabella, Robin Cousins as Munkustrap, Simon Rice as Mistoffelees and Tony Monopoly as Old Deuteronomy. The tour closed at the Manchester Opera House in December 1995.
Kittens require a high-calorie diet that contains more protein than the diet of adult cats. Young orphaned kittens require cat milk every two to four hours, and they need physical stimulation to defecate and urinate. Cat milk replacement is manufactured to feed to young kittens, because cow's milk does not provide all the necessary nutrients. Human-reared kittens tend to be very affectionate with humans as adults and sometimes more dependent on them than kittens reared by their mothers, but they can also show volatile mood swings and aggression. Depending on the age at which they were orphaned and how long they were without their mothers, these kittens may be severely underweight and can have health problems later in life, such as heart conditions. The compromised immune system of orphaned kittens (from lack of antibodies found naturally in the mother's milk) can make them especially susceptible to infections, making antibiotics a necessity.
A few attempts to build a cat census have been made over the years, both through associations or national and international organizations (such as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies's one) and over the Internet, but such a task does not seem simple to achieve. General estimates for the global population of domestic cats range widely from anywhere between 200 million to 600 million.
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:
Following its Broadway debut, Cats has been staged extensively across North America. The first US national tour, Cats National I, launched at the Shubert Theatre in Boston in December 1983 and closed in November 1987. The opening night cast included Laurie Beechman playing Grizabella and Charlotte d'Amboise playing Cassandra; later replacements included Victoria Clark and Jessica Molaskey both playing Jellylorum/Griddlebone. This production was a "slow tour" that had lengthy engagements lasting for several months in each of the nine cities it visited. Cats National II, a separate sit-down production at the Los Angeles Shubert Theatre, ran from January 1985 to November 1986, and starred Kim Criswell and George de la Peña in the roles of Grizabella and Mistoffelees respectively. A third US touring company, Cats National III, ran for two years from September 1986 to September 1988. Notable performers in the third tour included Jonathan Cerullo as Skimbleshanks (1986) and Bill Nolte as Old Deuteronomy (1987).
Serious damage is rare, as the fights are usually short in duration, with the loser running away with little more than a few scratches to the face and ears. However, fights for mating rights are typically more severe and injuries may include deep puncture wounds and lacerations. Normally, serious injuries from fighting are limited to infections of scratches and bites, though these can occasionally kill cats if untreated. In addition, bites are probably the main route of transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus. Sexually active males are usually involved in many fights during their lives, and often have decidedly battered faces with obvious scars and cuts to their ears and nose.
Female domestic cats can have kittens from spring to late autumn, with litter sizes ranging from two to five kittens. Domestic cats can be bred and shown as registered pedigreed cats, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by spaying and neutering, as well as abandonment of pets, has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, contributing to the extinction of entire bird species, and evoking population control.