The purr-fect role: Canadian cat stars in new movie

CBC Kids News • Published 2019-01-11 07:00

The journey from barn cat to Hollywood star

Smarty Pants is living up to her name.

The Manitoba cat plays one of the lead roles in a new movie called A Dog’s Way Home, which opened in theatres across Canada this week.

The movie by Columbia Pictures was filmed in the Vancouver-area in the fall of 2017.

It’s about a dog named Bella that travels across the country to find its owner.

Smarty Pants’ character becomes friends with Bella and helps the dog during part of its journey.

Cat stands on log near outdoor woodpile near movie clapperboard.

Smarty Pants was trained by Courtney Voth, who started a company called Manitoba Animal Actors. (Submitted by Courtney Voth)

Animal trainer Courtney Voth got Smarty Pants from a farm in Steinbach, Man., when the cat was six weeks old.

Voth said it was clear early on that the animal was not like other cats.

Smarty Pants was “a really bold, brave young cat,” she said.

A loud sound like a popping balloon might scare a normal cat away, but it only made Smarty Pants curious to investigate, Voth said.

Cat stands on movie chair that says Channel Zero cast on it.

The cat was 12 weeks old when it got its first acting gig on a Channel Zero TV series called Candle Cove. (Submitted by Courtney Voth)

Voth said Smarty Pants has become “a bit of a diva” since becoming an actor.

The cat now "has her own custom blinged-out harness” to wear while travelling.

Cat with blue harness that says Smarty Pants on it peers out window at airport runway.

Smarty Pants shows off her rhinestone-studded harness while she waits at the airport. (Submitted by Courtney Voth)

Smarty Pants doesn’t get paid in treats, the way most cat actors do, said Voth.

The animal doesn’t have a big appetite, so Voth has to find other ways to encourage Smarty Pants to perform.

"She'll work for a toy," she said.

Glossy movie poster shows puppy sitting in red shoe with the words A Dog's Way Home underneath.

The Columbia Pictures movie A Dog’s Way Home opened in theatres across Canada this week. (Columbia Pictures)

When Smarty Pants isn’t in front of the cameras, the cat just “chills out” in the green room backstage, Voth said.

The cat is “really easygoing” on set, Voth said, almost more like a dog than a cat.

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