I love that there’s a remake of Pet Sematary, which will debut on April 5. For those horror fans (and cat fans) who don’t know this already, there were actually five cats chosen to play the role of Church in the remake of the Stephen King classic Pet Sematary.
When I found the article on the role of Church, I was led to believe it was a story on how to put makeup on a cat to turn it into a ‘cat zombie.’ What ended up interesting me more was how Church was chosen from shelters and rescue organizations when lead trainer Melissa Millett and animal Coordinator Kirk Jarrett went zombie cat hunting.
Although five cats were chosen, two of them were breakout stars who will likely be seen in future films. Leo and Tonic were so good at playing the zombie cat, they really didn’t need the three extra ‘doubles.’
Add to the cats being very talented, trainer Melissa says that over the past 20 years she has taught cats to roll over and even ride a scooter. She uses a system of clicks and treats to encourage the cats. Melissa said the cats had a lot of demands, including air conditioning, a quiet set and plenty of chicken. Temptation cat treats were also used.
Maine Coons Leo and Tonic were very good at being ‘beastly.’ Tonic was a young stray someone picked up off the street in Canada and brought him to a shelter. As soon as he strode out of his crate everyone knew they had a star on their hands. Leo could lean to jump into people’s arms on cue. A very good trait for a zombie cat.
As for Leo, he’s very laid-back and has a talent of sitting and staring. He made a perfect zombie once the fake blood was matted into his coat. He’s the poster boy for Pet Sematary while Tonic has been making the rounds on every media appearance.
The trainers and an American Humane Society representative had what Melissa calls a catnip party in a dry bathtub where one drop of makeup at a time is placed until the cats were comfortable. Jarrett said during an interview with NY Post
“Cats are sensitive to new things. But they love mental stimulation, they love to work and they love adventure, as long as you acclimate them.”
All five of the felines found forever homes with Millett, Jarrett and other friends. Tonic and Leo also have Instagram accounts and will likely have big careers ahead of them.