Rum Tum Tugger

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Rum Tum Tugger, portrayed by John Partridge in the Cats video.
Paweł Podgórski as Rum Tum Tugger in a Polish production of Cats, 2007.

Rum Tum Tugger is one of the many feline characters in the poetry book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, published in 1939, and in the musical Cats, which premiered in 1981 and is based on Eliot's book.

Eliot draws attention to the similarities between feline and human personality traits. Rum Tum Tugger is portrayed as the rebel cat who cannot help but be difficult. He is never satisfied with what you give him;

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse.

He is notoriously hard to please and sets himself apart from others by trying to be different. He always does the opposite of what is expected of him and by the end of the poem the reader is left with the idea that the Rum Tum Tugger is deviously self-centered and relishes in being so. The three words that are used to describe his character given to each performer who plays the role are 'Perverse, Preening, and Independent'.

In the musical The Rum Tum Tugger is a black tom cat with leopard spots on his chest and a wild mane. In some Japanese productions, he is white. Mayo Kawasaki, Yuichiro Yamaguchi and Kim Hyun Joon had played the role in the Japan production. He is considered the ladies' cat and the rebel of the group. He loves the limelight, while at the same time he enjoys being seen as an individual by separating himself a little from the tribe. He may be self-obsessed, but he has great respect for those who deserve it, such as Old Deuteronomy, Munkustrap, and Mr. Mistoffelees. The younger female kittens (Victoria, Etcetera, Electra and Jemima), Cassandra, Exotica and even some of the male kittens such as Plato and Tumblebrutus are in awe of him as well as some of the older queens, chiefly Bombalurina. He flirts openly with almost every female cat in the filmed version (especially Bombalurina), although Demeter seems to dislike him very deeply. During "The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles", he plays the bagpipes.

Paul Nicholas played the role on the West End and Terrence Mann originated the role in the Broadway version. Rum Tum Tugger is played by John Partridge in the filmed version. In the 25th Anniversary tour of CATS, the role of Rum Tum Tugger was performed by Gary Watson. Right now in the Worldwide tour he is played by Adam Steiner. He is played by Tyler Hanes in the 2016 Broadway Revival. In most productions he sings 'The Rum Tum Tugger', 'Magical Mr Mistoffelees', and, along with Munkustrap he sings 'Old Deuteronomy'. In "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," he does not have his mane; he has a different wig and does not have his belt on yet. His first appearance with his mane and proper Rum Tum Tugger wig and accessories is in his own song (which he enjoys greatly - he gets to destroy the Gumbie Cat's fun.)

Andrew Lloyd Webber has stated that the part of the Tugger is intended to be an homage to Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones. This homage is apparent in the way he moves on stage in the original Gillian Lynne choreography and the costume styling.

His type of cat was said to be Maine Coon, because of his wild mane and being portrayed as being much bigger than the other cats.[1]


  1. ^ Eliot, T.S. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.