Manitoba cat actor making big-screen debut in A Dog's Way Home

A Manitoba rescue cat is about to make her big-screen debut. On Wednesday, the film A Dog’s Way Home hits theatres, and Smarty Pants the torbie cat plays one of the leading roles.

Smarty Pants rescued from Steinbach farm by professional animal trainer

Most cats are afraid of loud sounds, but as a kitten, Smarty Pants showed curiosity about strange noises, Courtney Voth says. (Submitted by Courtney Voth)

A Manitoba rescue cat is about to make her big-screen debut.

Animal trainer Courtney Voth rescued Smarty Pants, a torbie cat, from a farm in Steinbach when she was six weeks old.

The B.C.-shot film A Dog's Way Home hits theatres Friday, with Smarty Pants playing a leading role in the story about a dog that makes a 650-kilometre journey to reunite with its owner.

Voth, who founded the company Manitoba Animal Actors, said it was clear early on that Smarty Pants was not like most other cats.

Smarty Pants was rescued from a Steinbach farm at six weeks old by a professional animal trainer. (Submitted by Courtney Voth)

"She's is a really bold, brave young cat," Voth told CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon. "Things that would bang and normally scare a cat and they'd run away, she'd always go up to and investigate and find out what that noise was. So I knew right away that she really wasn't really afraid of things."

Smarty Pants made her acting debut in the TV series Channel Zero when it was filmed in Selkirk.

She was just 12 weeks old when the series was filmed, and while Voth said she hit her mark in every take, the scene brought out some of her kitten behaviour.

Smarty Pants made her acting debut in the Selkirk-shot series Channel Zero when she was 12 weeks old. (Submitted by Courtney Voth)

Smarty Pants had to walk to a spot and then stare at some puppets, which were moving in the background.

After about seven takes, "she finally flung herself at the puppets and just started attacking them and they just kept rolling cameras because they thought it was hilarious," Voth said.

Most cat actors are motivated by treats, but Smarty Pants doesn't have a big appetite, which can make it tricky to find ways to get her to perform.

"But she actually likes to play, so sometimes when she's not really into the food, I'll bring out a toy, and that's what she'll work for — she'll work for a toy," Voth said.

Voth joked that Smarty Pants has become such a diva since becoming an actor that she now travels with a rhinestone-studded harness.

Smarty Pants now travels with a rhinestone-studded harness. (Submitted by Courtney Voth)