Meet Tonic, the Rescue Cat Turned Horror Actor From ‘Pet Sematary’ and ‘Thanksgiving’

Tonic the rescue cat has cemented himself as a horror movie star, thanks to two notable horror roles now under his collar. First was his leading role as “Church” in the 2019 remake of Steven King’s Pet Sematary. His second is a prominent role as “Dewey” in Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, released just in time for the annual American holiday.

Meet tonic the cat horror actor from Pet Sematary and Thanksgiving
Credit: @tonicthehorrorcat

Tonic the cat as Winston “Church” Churchill in Pet Sematary

Tonic was a stray found walking the streets before being rescued and adopted at 10 months. When searching for Maine Coon cats for the role of Church (full name Winston Churchill) his handsome good looks (and expert training from animal actor trainer Melissa Millet) got him into the 5-pack of rescue cats hired for the role (who were all adopted after).

Tonic the cat and pet actor trainer Millet
Tonic the cat and trainer Melissa Millet [Credit: @tonicthehorrorcat]

One cat apparently got scared and quit, which left feline actors Tonic, Leo, Jager, and JD. Of those four, Tonic and Leo were tapped as the two lead kitties and the other two as stand-ins. They acted alongside human costars Jason Clarke, Jeté Laurence, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow.

Tonic the cat on the set of Pet Sematary
Credit: @tonicthehorrorcat

After two months of training, the kitties were ready for action! In Pet Sematary, Tonic is best known for playing Church at the beginning, when the cat is very cute and very much alive. But all the kitties had makeovers to turn them from cute to creepy. The makeup was, of course, safe for cats. The makeup included vaseline, coffee grounds, corn syrup, and organic red food coloring.

Tonic the cat getting makeup for Pet Sematary
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Leo the Cat’s role as Church in Pet Sematary

We must include a shoutout to Tonic’s costar, the late Leo (@church_aka_leo), who sadly passed away a few months after the premiere of Pet Sematary. His on-screen time was mainly as the undead version of Church, resulting in the movie’s most iconic shot (which you can see below).

Leo as Church the cat from Pet Sematary
Credit: Paramount Pictures

And we need to include this stellar shot of Tonic formally dressed for the Pet Sematary premiere.

Tonic the cat at the premier of Pet Semetary 2019
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tonic the cat as “Dewey” in Thanksgiving (2023)

In Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, Tonic plays Dewey the cat, alongside human actors Addison Rae, Nell Verlaque, Milo Manheim, Rick Hoffman, and Patrick Dempsey. And without spoiling the movie, we can say Tonic does have an important role (and isn’t killed or harmed in anyway).

Tonic the cat actor on the set of Thanksgiving movie
Credit: @tonicthehorrorcat

In horror films, if someone has a pet dog, cat or bird, and they’re killed, I can’t enjoy the movie. Even though I know it’s fake, even though I know it’s a story, it bothers me. So I wanted to solve that once and for all. Someone needs to feed the pet.

Eli Roth – On why the cat doesn’t get harmed – Movie Maker, November 2023
Tonic the Cat with director Eli Roth
Tonic and Eli Roth [Credit: @tonicthehorrorcat]

Check out the trailer for Pet Sematary below and make sure to follow @tonicthehorrorcat on Instagram. And for another celebrity cat, meet Tango – the feline actor who plays “Goose” in The Marvels movie.

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