There are many versions of the play script, one of which was influenced by director Elia Kazan, who directed the play on Broadway, and another which was performed for the first time in London.
The original Broadway production, which opened at the Morosco Theater on March 24, 1955, was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie; Ben Gazzara as Brick; Burl Ives as Big Daddy; Mildred Dunnock as Big Mama; Pat Hingle as Gooper; and Madeleine Sherwood as Mae. Bel Geddes was the only cast member nominated for a Tony Award, and Kazan was nominated for Best Director of a Play. Both Ives and Sherwood would reprise their roles in the 1958 film version. The cast also featured the southern blues duo Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry and had as Gazzara's understudy the young Cliff Robertson. When Gazzara left the play, Jack Lord replaced him. Others from the original Broadway production included R.G. Armstrong as Doctor Baugh; Fred Stewart as Reverend Tooker; Janice Dunn as Trixie; Seth Edwards as Sonny; Maxwell Glanville as Lacey; Pauline Hahn as Dixie; Darryl Richard as Buster; Eva Vaughn Smith as Daisy; and Musa Williams as Sookey. In London, Kim Stanley starred as Maggie.
A 1974 revival by the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut featured Elizabeth Ashley, Keir Dullea, Fred Gwynne, Kate Reid, and Charles Siebert. Ashley was nominated for a Tony Award. For this production, Williams restored much of the text which he had removed from the original one at the insistence of Elia Kazan. He included a revised third act and made substantial revisions elsewhere. According to Ashley, Williams allowed the actors to examine his original notes and various drafts of the script, and to make additions to the dialogue. When this production moved from Connecticut to Broadway, the part of Lacey was omitted and the number of Mae and Gooper's children reduced to three. In that same decade, John Carradine and Mercedes McCambridge toured in a road company production as Big Daddy and Big Mama, respectively.
The 1988 London National Theatre production, directed by Howard Davies, starred Ian Charleson, Lindsay Duncan, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, and Eric Porter.
A revival in 1990 featured Kathleen Turner, who was nominated for a Tony for her performance as Maggie, though New York Magazine called her "hopelessly lost...in this limp production." Charles Durning, as Big Daddy, received a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Daniel Hugh Kelly was Brick, and Polly Holliday was Big Mama. Holliday was also nominated for a Tony.
A 2003 revival received lukewarm reviews despite the presence of film stars Ashley Judd and Jason Patric. Only Ned Beatty, as Big Daddy, and Margo Martindale, as Big Mama, were singled out for impressive performances. Martindale received a Tony nomination.
A 2004 production at the Kennedy Center featured Mary Stuart Masterson as Maggie, Jeremy Davidson as Brick, George Grizzard as Big Daddy, Dana Ivey as Big Mama, and Emily Skinner as Mae. Shortly afterward, Masterson and Davidson were married.
In 2008, an all-African-American production directed by Debbie Allen opened on Broadway. Terrence Howard made his Broadway debut as Brick, alongside stage veterans James Earl Jones (Big Daddy), Phylicia Rashad (Big Mama), Anika Noni Rose (Maggie) and Lisa Arrindell Anderson (Mae). In November 2009, the production moved to London's West End, where Adrian Lester played Brick and Sanaa Lathan was Maggie. The West End Production received the 2010 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival of a Play.
In 2010, a production of the play opened at Cambridge University's ADC Theatre. And in January 2011, a production to mark Williams' 100 birthday was presented at Vienna's English Theatre, Vienna, Austria. From May 3, 2011 to October 23, 2011, 'Cat' is being performed at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada. From January 14 to February 26, 2012, 'Cat' is being performed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
A 2013 Broadway revival featured Ciarán Hinds as Big Daddy, Debra Monk as Big Mama, Benjamin Walker as Brick, and Scarlett Johansson as Maggie.
A 2014 production played at Royal & Derngate, Royal Exchange Theatre and Northern Stage, with original music by White Lies (band), featuring Mariah Gale, Charles Aitken and Kim Criswell and directed by James Dacre