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What’s new, pussycat? How feline film stars are trained to perform

From Stuart Little and Pet Sematary to new movie The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, cats can be scene-stealers. But how do you get such fickle and independent creatures to behave on camera?

Cats have been effortlessly stealing scenes from their human co-stars for decades. Who could forget Audrey Hepburn’s adorable marmalade tabby in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Or Jinx, the toilet-flushing Himalayan in Meet the Parents? Behind every famous film cat, there is a dedicated trainer patiently teaching them to obey a command, making sure they’re happy on set, and grooming them fastidiously to maintain their fluffy good looks.

The film-makers behind The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, a British period biopic about the Edwardian artist and illustrator who became famous for his surreal portraits of cats, were adamant they didn’t want to use CGI for the shoot, so animal trainer Charlotte Wilde was brought in with 40 feisty felines. “It was organised chaos,” she says. “They had their own green room and were treated like royalty.”

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