Domestic kittens in developed societies are usually vaccinated against common illnesses from two to three months of age. The usual combination vaccination protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus (C), and feline panleukopenia (P). This FVRCP inoculation is usually given at eight, twelve, and sixteen weeks, and an inoculation against rabies may be given at sixteen weeks. Kittens are usually spayed or neutered at seven months of age, but kittens may be neutered as young as seven weeks (if large enough), especially in animal shelters. Such early neutering does not appear to have any long-term health risks to cats, and may even be beneficial in male cats. Kittens are commonly wormed against roundworms from about four weeks.
The development of Cats was also plagued by financial troubles. Mackintosh struggled to raise the £450,000 ($1.16 million) needed to stage the musical in the West End as major investors were sceptical of the show's premise and refused to back it. Lloyd Webber personally underwrote the musical and took out a second mortgage on his house for the down payment of the theatre. He later recalled that if Cats had been a commercial failure, it would have left him in financial ruin. The remaining capital was eventually financed by small investments procured from 220 individuals through newspaper advertisements. After the musical became a massive hit, the rate of return for these investors was estimated to have exceeded 3,500%.
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.
During a fall from a high place, a cat reflexively twists its body and rights itself to land on its feet using its acute sense of balance and flexibility. This reflex is known as the cat righting reflex. An individual cat always rights itself in the same way during a fall, provided it has sufficient time to do so. The height required for this to occur is around 90 cm (3.0 ft). Cats without a tail also have this reflex. Several explanations have been proposed for this phenomenon since the late 19th century:
Shortly after the Sydmonton Festival, Lloyd Webber began setting the unpublished poems he had been given to music, a few of which were later added into the show. He also composed the overture and "The Jellicle Ball", incorporating analog synthesizers into these orchestrations to try to create a unique electronic soundscape. Meanwhile, Mackintosh recruited Nunn, the then artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), to direct Practical Cats. Nunn was an unusual choice as he was considered "too high-brow" for musical theatre, but Mackintosh felt that a "pedigree" director was needed to ensure Valerie Eliot's approval of the project. After much persuasion, Nunn came on board and was joined by his fellow RSC colleagues, choreographer Gillian Lynne and set and costume designer John Napier. Nunn initially envisioned Practical Cats as a chamber piece for five actors and two pianos, which he felt would reflect "Eliot's charming, slightly offbeat, mildly satiric view of late-1930's London". However, he relented to Lloyd Webber's more ambitious vision for the musical. Nunn was also convinced that for the musical to have the wide commercial appeal that the producers desired, it could not remain as a series of isolated numbers but instead had to have a narrative through line. He was therefore tasked with piecing the self-contained poems together into a story. Nunn wrote about the significance "Grizabella the Glamour Cat" had on the construction of the narrative:
It was long thought that cat domestication was initiated in Egypt, because cats in ancient Egypt were venerated from around 3100 BC. However, the earliest indication for the taming of an African wildcat (F. lybica) was found in Cyprus, where a cat skeleton was excavated close by a human Neolithic grave dating to around 7500 BC. African wildcats were probably first domesticated in the Near East. The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) was tamed independently in China around 5500 BC, though this line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in the domestic cat populations of today.