Training Kittens To Play ‘Keanu’

A new movie by comedy duo Key and Peele has a kitten (seven of them, actually) in a starring role. Get the three biggest tips that trainers used to capture cat stardust.

Written by
Anastasia Thrift

It’s showtime for a lucky tabby kitten. Well, seven lucky tabbies.

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s new movie “Keanu” places a kitten at the center of the action, and the Hollywood Reporter has revealed some of the little stars’ secrets. The first one we learn is that there were, in fact, seven little stars who took on the eponymous role in the film, which debuts April 29.

Larry Payne of Birds and Animals Unlimited and April Mackin trained all the “Keanu” kittens. Each actor/actress had to portray the heart of the movie: the missing cat that Key and Peele venture out on a dangerous mission to reclaim. Payne laid out three tips to getting these cats to act on cue. 

Keanu running lines.  Via Keanu Movie/Twitter

Keanu running lines. Via Keanu Movie/Twitter

First: Moar kittehs. Cats have different talents, as we know, so multiple cats were able to tackle different aspects of the title character. Hence: seven kittens. (In tiny trailers? We can only hope.)

Second: Noms rule everything around us. Using buzzers and food rewards, the kittens learned to walk, run and sit on marks. Payne got the kittens to walk over to a buzzer with repeated treats. A kitten gave Peele’s face a kiss with the motivation of a little baby food on the target. Hollywood secret! 

Kitten showing off action movie moves.  Via  Keanu Movie/Twitter

Kitten showing off action movie moves. Via Keanu Movie/Twitter

Third: Location, location, location. Each kitten went to the New Orleans set at only a few weeks of age so they could grow accustomed to the noise and chaos of the movie set. This enabled everyone — cats and people alike — to grow comfortable with the surroundings and make everybody/kitty feel at ease.

According to Payne, quoted in the Hollywood Reporter story, the kittens “were treated like little stars.” As well they should be. Even better — all the Keanus were adopted.

That’s a happy ending.

Article Categories:


  • i was so happy to read that all the little kitties were treated well on the set of the making of this movie and that they all got adopted. i work with a cat rescue group in pictou, nova scotia, canada, and i cannot tolerate cruelty to any animals tame or wild. i have read where some animals are mistreated on the set of some movies so this is why i was glad to read they were treated like little stars. bravo.

    benita macneill April 23, 2016 12:15 pm Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *