After the show's closure on Broadway in 2000, Troika Entertainment obtained the touring rights for Cats and launched the show's first non-Equity national company. After a try-out at Harrah's Atlantic City in July 2001, the production toured North America for 11 years from August 2001 to June 2012. Performers in the non-Equity tour included Julie Garnyé as Jennyanydots (2001) and Dee Roscioli as Grizabella (2002). In January 2019, a new North American Equity tour based on the 2016 Broadway revival opened at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island, and is scheduled to run through June 2020.
The domestic cat's ability to thrive in almost any terrestrial habitat has led to its designation as one of the world's most invasive species. As it is little altered from the wildcat, it can readily interbreed with the wildcat. This hybridization poses a danger to the genetic distinctiveness of some wildcat populations, particularly in Scotland and Hungary and possibly also the Iberian Peninsula.
The first non-English production of Cats premiered in March 1983 at the Madách Theatre in Budapest, Hungary, with direction by Tamás Szirtes and choreography by László Seregi. Since then, the Hungarian-language production has continued to be staged intermittently as part of the Madách Theatre's repertoire and, as of 2017, has been performed nearly 1,500 times.
Cats has received many international awards and nominations. The original London production was nominated for six Laurence Olivier Awards in 1981, winning two awards including Best New Musical. Two years later, the original Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, out of eleven nominations. The London and Broadway cast recordings were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, which the latter won. In 2015, the London revival was nominated for — but did not win — two Olivier Awards, including Best Musical Revival.
Cats are ready to go to new homes at about 12 weeks of age, when they are ready to leave their mother. They can be surgically sterilized (spayed or castrated) as early as 7 weeks to limit unwanted reproduction. This surgery also prevents undesirable sex-related behavior, such as aggression, territory marking (spraying urine) in males and yowling (calling) in females. Traditionally, this surgery was performed at around six to nine months of age, but it is increasingly being performed before puberty, at about three to six months. In the US, about 80% of household cats are neutered.
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats is a collection of light poetry about cats that Eliot had originally written for his godchildren in the 1930s. Due to the rhythmic nature of Eliot's work, there had been previous attempts before Cats at setting his poems to music, though none of these attempts had been met with much critical or commercial success. Musicologist John Snelson wrote of the poems:
Napier also designed the costumes, combining cat and human features based on "hints" given in Eliot's poems, while ensuring that they did not impede the dancers' movements. The costumes generally consist of a unitard, a wig that is fashioned to suggest the presence of feline ears, patches resembling body fur, and arm and leg warmers to give the performers' hands and feet a more paw-like appearance. As with the contrasting music and dance styles, the costumes and make-up are used to bring out each character's distinct personality. For example, the costume for the flirtatious Bombalurina is designed to accentuate her sexiness, while the markings on the costume for Jemima — the youngest of the tribe — resemble crayon scribbles. Every character's design motif is custom-painted by hand onto a plain unitard to line up with their performer's individual body. In order to reproduce the "hand-drawn aesthetic" of Napier's original design sketches, costume painters in the original Broadway production used squeeze bottles to apply the paint. Due to the amount of dancing in Cats, most of the costume did not last longer than a few months.
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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.
Cats have excellent night vision and can see at only one-sixth the light level required for human vision.:43 This is partly the result of cat eyes having a tapetum lucidum, which reflects any light that passes through the retina back into the eye, thereby increasing the eye's sensitivity to dim light. Another adaptation to dim light is the large pupils of cats' eyes. Unlike some big cats, such as tigers, domestic cats have slit pupils. These slit pupils can focus bright light without chromatic aberration, and are needed since the domestic cat's pupils are much larger, relative to their eyes, than the pupils of the big cats. At low light levels, a cat's pupils will expand to cover most of the exposed surface of its eyes. However, domestic cats have rather poor color vision and (like most nonprimate mammals) have only two types of cones, optimized for sensitivity to blue and yellowish green; they have limited ability to distinguish between red and green. A 1993 paper reported a response to middle wavelengths from a system other than the rods which might be due to a third type of cone. However, this appears to be an adaptation to low light levels rather than representing true trichromatic vision.
In 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) fixed the scientific name for the wildcat as F. silvestris. The same commission ruled that the domestic cat is a distinct taxon Felis catus. Following results of phylogenetic research, the domestic cat was considered a wildcat subspecies F. silvestris catus in 2007.