Kiernan Shipka came to an unfortunate realization one day on the set of Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: she was allergic to cats. That might not seem like such a big deal, but Shipka often shares scenes with the three cats who play Salem, the teenage witch Sabrina Spellman’s cat-protector. The 20-year-old actress isn’t in any danger of dying from prolonged exposure to her feline costars, but she does have an immediate reaction when touching them.
Shipka spoke with Collider about the “very hard way” she found out she was allergic to cats. In the interview, Shipka revealed that cat allergies run in her family, but that she hadn’t realized she suffered from the same thing until she touched the cat playing Salem. “My uncle is like that and my dad is allergic to cats. I’ve just never grew up in a family of cats. I just didn’t know.” The allergy isn’t so bad that the Mad Men actress has any fears that she’ll “stop breathing all of a sudden or something like that,” but she does “break out in really bad hives.”
Salem is still very much a presence on the show, however. Since discovering the allergy, Shipka says the script doesn’t call for her to do “as much touching and holding” of the felines. “It kind of works because he’s Sabrina’s protector in a certain way,” Shipka explained. “Since he’s not the sassy cat that talks and he’s more of the grounded, chill cat that comes in and saves the day, it’s workable.”
Kiernan Shipka still loves her feline co-stars
Even though the cats who play Salem cause Shipka some discomfort if they’re forced to work together in close quarters, she has nothing but praise for them. “Honestly, I cannot say nicer things about the three cats that play Salem. They are wonderful, prepared, kind,” gushed Shipka. “They show up on time… They do indeed work for tuna and little toys and snaps. They are great.” She also revealed some “movie magic” that takes place whenever the script calls for Salem to follow Sabrina around. “The cat has been strapped onto me several times, to follow me.” The phrase “cat-wrangler” is usually a tongue-in-cheek joke, but it seems like the literal cat-wranglers on set have a pretty easy time with their job.
Since spending time on the spooky set, Shipka has picked up some witchy knowledge. Gossip Cop recently wrote about what Shipka would do with her character’s occult capabilities, and they involve heartthrob crooner Shawn Mendes and some sort of love hex. Honestly, it seems like a pretty wise use of her powers, though dispelling her allergies would probably be a nice spell, too.