Cate started formal dance training at age 15 learning tap, jazz and classical ballet. She also began to choreograph at this time and these works were included in annual performances by the students. Her enthusiasm for performance inspired her and two other students to apply for funding for a youth dance company. The project received funding and with the assistance of Ruth Osborne, Derek Holtzinger and Penny Why, became one of the first groups to create a season and perform at The Maltings and Perth Concert Hall in Western Australia.
Cate completed her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts in 1991. While studying she made her professional debut in a production of Axion Esti choreographed by Jean Tally for the 1991 Festival of Perth. Whilst at WAAPA she performed works choreographed by Jean Tally, Jane Diamond and Reyes de Lara. Her final graduation performance included a reproduction of Neil Adam's Lunar Return. Cate joined Tasdance for three years in 1992 as a teacher and performer.