Cats Is a Metaphor About Heaven?

Illustration for article titled Cats Is a Metaphor About Heaven?

Tuesday saw the release of a new trailer for Cats, a film by Tom Hooper that’s based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical everyone in the world seems to know and love, except for Jezebel’s Maria Sherman and me, Emily Alford. While Maria has drunkenly asked friends to describe the plot, I prefer to watch the trailers and hypothesize. Unfortunately, this new trailer yet again provides few clues. Based on the limited information we’ve collected, here’s some woefully uninformed speculation as to what the plot of Cats might be. Are you tired of the Cats news cycle yet? No! Yes! No!


Emily: Is it cat Hunger Games? The husky-voiced cat in the trailer says it’s dangerous.

Maria: My understanding, which is based solely on the fact that my parents saw 30 minutes of the play once 30 years ago, and that I’ve asked some musical theater dorks in drunk party situations, is that Cats is about one cat going to cat heaven. The rest, I assume, burn in hell, along with the play itself. But is it like a new cat every time? Does the play change? Because that could be interesting.

Emily: And there are no humans. This is just cat world right?

Maria: No humans. It’s like a Toy Story situation. The people are away so the cats will play with their cat boobs. But they are micro-cats, smaller than regular cat size, judging by the first trailer.

Emily: Ok, so here it is: Judi Dench is the cat god who picks one special cat to go to heaven every year based on how good they are at dancing.

Maria: But I want to know why the Jennifer Hudson cat is so sad. I assume it means she doesn’t get into cat heaven.

Emily: I thought her boyfriend cat was in love with the cat Judi Dench said was special.


Maria: Or maybe her boyfriend goes to cat heaven, and she’s sad because she’s still on Earth/Hell.

Emily: So there is no hell but the evil cats do to one another. So it’s like No Exit but also based on a T.S. Eliot poem about cats giving themselves names.


Maria: So maybe it’s just three hours of cats getting named, and then it’s over.

Emily: I just hope it’s not a metaphor.  

Maria: My final thought is this: Cats is a Toy Story-esqe canonical musical in which street cats dance for Judi Dench in order to appear worthy of heaven. All but one will fail, but they will all sing. Also, James Corden is definitely going to die.


Emily: Okay mine is like yours but a bit different: Cat God Judi Dench and Cat Devil Idris Elba battle for the souls of the three-named cats one night a year. The twist is there is no cat hell, only the misery they inflict upon one another to compete for heaven. Humans do not exist in this world, occasionally their cat stuff is just huge for some reason.

Maria: This was fun! I learned nothing.

Emily: I also learned nothing but feel as if I did. That, I’m guessing, is the magic of Cats.

URL: Senior Writer, Jezebel. IRL: Author of the very good book 'LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS,' out now.



Jellicle cats meet once a year—at the Jellicle Ball, where they all rejoice.

The Jellicle Leader will soon appear, and make what it known as the “Jellicle Choice”.

[That’s when] Old Deuteronomy, just before dawn, with a silence you feel you can cut with a knife, announces the cat who can now be ‘re-born’ and come back to a different Jellicle Life.

For waiting up there is the ‘Heavy-Side Layer’- with wonders [that] one Jellicle only will see.

And Jellicles ask, because Jellicles dare, “Who will it be?”

Spoiler: Jennifer Hudson (aka Grizabella the Glamour Cat) gets chosen by Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy) to die and get re-born in the cat paradise known as Heavy-Side Layer.

Never under-estimate the recall capacity of musical theater kid-geek from the 1980's with a tape cassette and a dream.