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Can you imagine being afraid of cats? Well, we can’t. But for some folks, the fear of felines, ailurophobia, is all too real. Yet, we often see people overcoming their preconceived ideas about cats once they’ve spent some time with them. And once they do, it can be life-changing! Here’s another case where that’s what happened to award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o.

Lupita Nyong'o, A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, 4

Recent image of Lupita Nyong’o with her cat Yoyo via Facebook/Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o Resisted Working With a Cat

Lupita Nyong’o’s perspective on cats underwent a significant transformation before appearing in the post-apocalyptic movie prequel, A Quiet Place: Day One. When asked if she enjoyed being around felines before the film, she said, “Not at all!” She even “begged” the director to change the animal to an armadillo!

“[Michael] was like, ‘No, it has to be a cat,’ Nyong’o explained. “Because I wanted to play the role, I had to get over my fear of cats. So, I went through cat therapy.”

Lupita Nyong'o, A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, 1

Lupita Nyong’o with Joseph Quinn and Schnitzel the cat as seen in A Quiet Place: Day One. Image via Facebook/Celebrity Pets

They Brought Cats to Nyong’o’s Home

Ironically, despite all kinds of scary aliens in the movie, acting with a cat was almost a deal-breaker for her. She called it a “sticking point” as she considered the film. Yet she decided to confront her fears, undergoing a kind of feline immersion therapy at home.

 “It started with two, and the first day, they just let the cats roam around me, and I asked the woman who brought the cats questions about why they were doing certain things. The next day, I touched one with one finger, and slowly, slowly, I got comfortable enough to hold a cat through this film,” Nyong’o said.“You’ve just got to work with the thing your’e afraid of,” she added.

Lupita Nyong'o, A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, 2

Scene from the film via Facebook/Celebrity Pets

The Feline Frodo to Lupita Nyong’o’s Sam

In the movie, Nyong’o plays a tourist to New York, Samira, or Sam, and the kitty is Frodo, played by cat actors Schnitzel and Nico. Their names might bring to mind images of hobbits walking through a post-apocalyptic New York City/Mordor together. And like the hobbits, we worry about them.

With so much intensity and action in the movie, working with the cats ended up helping Nyong’o be “in the moment.”

“They keep it fresh! You have to be in the moment when you’re working with a cat,” she told the Associated Press. “Because they don’t know they’re an actor; they don’t know what their lines are; they’re doing whatever it is they see fit to do in that moment. So, you have to be on your toes and respond to them.”

“And they know that,” said Quinn of a cat’s awareness.

“Yeah, they do,” said Nyong’o. “They’re cheeky!”

Lupita Nyong'o, A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, 3

Opening week pictures via Facebook/Lupita Nyong’o

Video by Radio Times showing Nico the cat:

The Cats Were Favorites and the ‘Real Bosses’ On Set

During the interview, Quinn went on to say he was “quite into cats” prior to taking the role, although he considers himself “a dog man” too. He also said the cats brought “unpredictability and spontaneity to the set, along with logistic challenges.

“It took a lot of patience to work with the cats…” said Nyong’o

“They were brilliant,” said Quinn.

“They were absolutely brilliant,” seconded Nyong’o. “Cats are very individualistic and very independent. So what they were able to teach these cats to do was astounding.”

The actress went on to express how impressed she was at how the cats adjusted to the “craziness of the set.” In a movie that required a unique level of constant silence, she remarked how “orderly” things became when they brought the felines to the set. Keeping them comfortable was a top priority for everyone.

“I will say they were really, really the stars of the show…They were the real bosses,” said Nyog’o.

The two hinted that everyone on set could tell that the cats were their favorite!

“I think everyone could tell!” Nyong’o said while laughing.

In actuality, Schnitzel is played by at least two trained kitties who are not twins but look as if they could be (see video below).

“We bonded, me and…most of the cats,” said Quinn.

As the protagonist faces an immediate threat from aliens while simultaneously battling cancer, she has to find the will to live. Would you be surprised if the adorable kitty cat helped her find inner strength? When times get tough, it’s these kind of personal connections that ultimately matter.

Video by SHOWSHA featuring Nyong’o, Schnitzel, and Quinn:

She Adopted A Beautiful Orange Cat Named Yoyo!

In October 2023, Nyong’o announced that she adopted an orange rescued cat name Yoyo. The kitty has made frequent appearances on her social media since then.

“Introducing my new companion, Yoyo! I have historically been afraid of cats, but when my life was altered instantly recently, a little voice whispered to me that it was time to embrace change and new possibilities. So, a dear friend (shoutout Palmer Hefferan!) held my hand through the process and took me to visit my first animal shelters. I fostered Yoyo from Best Friends Adoption Center, and 3 days into it, I knew I could not give him up,” she shared to Facebook.

A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, 3

Here’s how she described YoYo’s purrsonality:

• He LOVES company

• He LOVES his food

• He is extremely careful and rarely drops things

• He is very picky about his wand toys

• He only drinks running water

• The bugs in the house don’t stand a chance

• He can’t be trusted around supplements!

A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, 4

As we see all the time, the star discovered that saving YoYo also saved her!

“I never understood people whose phones were full of photos and videos of their pets – now I am one of those people! It may look like I saved Yoyo, but really, Yoyo is saving me.”

Lupita Nyong'o, A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, Glamour Magazine pictures

Image via Facebook/Lupita Nyong’o/ @‌adrienneraquel for @glamourmag

The star adopted YoYo from the wonderful rescuers at Best Friends like many other celebrities.

“And shoutout to the fantastic staff at Best Friends Animal Society for being so warm, helpful and patient with me!” she shared.

A Quiet Place: Day One, overcoming fear of cats, Schnitzel and Nico, acting with cats, Hollywood Cats, Best Friends Animal Society, Yoyo the orange rescued cat, Joseph Quinn, acting with cats, 2

And here is Yoyo with his adoring Mama in New York City recently during release week for A Quiet Place: Day One. As you can see, she is definitely an adoring cat mom now! 

For more, you can follow Lupita on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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