How to do cats the musical makeup

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you're attending a costume party or looking for a Halloween costume or even performing a number from "Cats," all you need is a little bit of stage make-up and you can recreate the make-up look from the hit musical. Pick your favourite "Cats" character to base your face paint on, or just design your own unique look. This is also a great way to get kids excited about theatre productions---having their make-up done will give them a taste of what goes on behind-the-scenes in musicals like this one.

Apply base colour of greasepaint. Dip a slightly dampened make-up sponge into the greasepaint, then apply slow, short strokes to your face to get an even coat. Choose your base colour by deciding which "Cats" character you'd like to resemble. For example, if you want Exotica's make-up, start with a dark brown base. If you want to look more like Munkustrap or Grizabella, start with a white base. Apply the desired colour to your forehead, the hollows of your cheeks, the bridge of your nose, and along your jaw line. Use a photograph of the character you want to resemble to decide where else to add the colour. Demeter's tan base coat covers most of his face except for the area around his mouth and the very centre of his forehead. Exotica's base coat covers everywhere but the area around her mouth and her cheekbones. Munkustrap's white base coat covers his entire face.

Apply secondary colour, also using a make-up sponge. If you have only one sponge, wash it thoroughly and air-dry until moist before you apply the second colour.

If you're Exotica, use tan greasepaint. If you're Demeter, use white. Most of the cat characters in the musical have a lighter secondary colour, which appears in a circle around their mouth, extending from their chin to just below their nose. You can add a V-shape in the centre of your forehead with either the secondary colour or a darker, third colour. Add long streaks of the second and third colours at the edge of your face, just below your cheekbones, and from your eyebrows leading up to the edges of your forehead. This mimics the colour pattern of real cats' facial fur.

Outline your eyes. Using black eyeliner, start on the inside corner of your eyes and make two short downward marks, one from your lower lid toward the bridge of your nose, and one from your upper lid in the same direction. Then, at the outer corner of your lower eyelid (and in some "Cats" characters your upper eyelid as well), draw a thick line that extends past the edge of your eye and up toward your eyebrows. At this point, you can also use the black eyeliner to make whiskers---draw five or six solid dots above both sides of your upper lip. If the character model you're using has a black nose, smudge the tip of your nose with the eyeliner. If your character's nose is pink, apply a dab of pink greasepaint to the nose-tip.

Create optional wrinkles. First, draw a thin, dark line with black eyeliner where you'd like the wrinkle to be. Blend one edge of this line so that one side of the line is sharp while the other is blurred. Add a thin line of white highlighter along the sharp edge of the black line. Blend the white line on the opposite side of the black line, so that the outer edges of your wrinkle are blurred, but the inner edges, where the dark and light lines touch, are sharp. This gives your wrinkles a realistic look.


Apply lipstick when the rest of your make-up is finished. False eyelashes can add to your look, or apply a heavy layer of mascara.


Don't let greasepaint get it in your eyes. Use make-up remover or cold cream to remove it. Do not sleep with the make-up on, or you skin will break out the next day.

Things You'll Need

  • Stage make-up or greasepaint in your desired colours
  • Make-up sponge
  • White highlighter
  • Black eyeliner
  • Make-up remover or cold cream
  • False eyelashes, if desired
  • Lipstick
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About the Author

Ellen Goodlett has been a writer since 1999. Her work has been published in the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" and "Nimbus" magazine. Goodlett holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and languages from Bryn Mawr College.