The big news is undoubtedly Catt's inclusion, the Bath utility not having played in an England jersey since November 24, 2001, as injuries have taken their toll on the South African-born back.
"In a squad like this for the RWC you need three people who can play 10 especially when you consider the tough pool matches we have to play and who we may face in the knockout stages," explained Woodward.
"Clearly, we've got two in the squad with Jonny [Wilkinson] and Paul [Grayson], but we need a third and we'd already lost Charlie Hodgson and Alex King through injury.
"So quite simply Mike is the next person in. Although his kicking game is fantastic he's been out for a long time purely because there have been other players ahead of him but I've been speaking to him regularly over the last six months and the biggest thing for me was him getting back to full fitness, which he has done.
"Once Alex King was injured it was a very simple choice."
Catt, however, can also provide cover in the midfield, Woodward having selected just three specialist centres, his current first-choice duo of Will Greenwood and Mike Tindall being joined by another SA-reared player, Wasps star Stuart Abbott, who gets in ahead of Leicester's Ollie Smith.
Squad vice-captain and No.10 Jonny Wilkinson heads the list of 14 backs announced by Woodward, Paul Grayson providing back-up to the Newcastle star.
Woodward has opted for three scrum-halves – Matt Dawson, Kyran Bracken and Andy Gomarsall – Healey being ignored despite his ability to play almost anywhere in the backline from scrum-half, to fly-half, to the back three.
"It's tough on Austin and I've had a long chat with him," said the England coach.
"The biggest thing everyone has got to get their minds around is that I'm not taking a squad of utility players and when we play these games and we must have the best 22 available for the key games.
"Austin has had almost a year out and although he has done very well he has not quite done enough to be selected."
The back three has a familiar look to it, Woodward selecting his first-choice back three of Josh Lewsey, Jason Robinson and Ben Cohen, with Dan Luger and Iain Balshaw giving him more options out wide, while Gloucester's James Simpson-Daniel is the unlucky one to miss out.
Up front, squad skipper Martin Johnson leads a powerful unit, capable of getting the better of any other side in the world.
Woodward has selected four props, three hookers, six loose forwards and just three locks, with Wasps star Simon Shaw the unlucky second rower to miss out and Leicester veteran Graham Rowntree the unlucky front rower not selected.
Loose forwards Richard Hill, Neil Back, Lawrence Dallaglio, Lewis Moody and Joe Worsley pick themselves, Lions and Leicester utility back rower Martin Corry securing the sixth spot ahead of the likes of Alex Sanderson and Andy Hazell, both of whom were involved in the pre-World Cup friendlies.
Said Woodward: "Simon Shaw would be in any other international team in the world and not to pick him or Graham Rowntree are the two hardest decisions I've had to make in my six years as Head Coach with England.
"However, I had to be practical and Martin has been playing outstandingly well. Regarding the remaining players who didn't make it, it's scant consolation for them that they have all made a significant contribution to England being successful.
"The competition within the squad is huge and it's made the decisions I've had to make very difficult. I wish all the players who haven't made the final 30 the very best for a very successful season with their Zurich Premiership clubs and they must remember that they are just one injury away from joining the squad."
Forwards: Jason Leonard (NEC Harlequins), Phil Vickery (Gloucester), Julian White (Leicester Tigers), Trevor Woodman (Gloucester), Mark Regan (Leeds Tykes), Steve Thompson (Northampton Saints), Dorian West (Leicester Tigers), Danny Grewcock (Bath), Martin Johnson, (Leicester Tigers, captain), Ben Kay (Leicester Tigers), Neil Back (Leicester Tigers), Martin Corry, (Leicester Tigers), Lawrence Dallaglio (London Wasps), Richard Hill (Saracens), Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers), Joe Worsley (London Wasps).
Backs: Iain Balshaw (Bath), Ben Cohen (Northampton Saints), Josh Lewsey (London Wasps), Dan Luger (Perpignan), Jason Robinson (Sale Sharks), Stuart Abbott (London Wasps), Will Greenwood (NEC Harlequins), Mike Tindall (Bath), Mike Catt (Bath), Paul Grayson (Northampton Saints), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle Falcons, vice-captain), Kyran Bracken (Saracens), Matt Dawson (Northampton Saints), Andy Gomarsall (Gloucester).
England's Pool C RWC fixtures:
v Georgia, Sunday, October 12v South Africa, Saturday, October 18v Samoa, Sunday, October 26v Uruguay, Sunday, November 2