The Oscar-winning actor also reveals how he bonds with his 88-year-old mother, Kay

Matthew McConaughey is no stranger to fielding questions from kids. After all, he’s got his own feisty brood – Levi, 12, Vida, 10, and Livingston, 8, — with his wife Camila.

So when a handful of young fans peppered him with fun questions about everything from the sports he played as a kid (baseball, basketball, football and golf) to his favorite pet (hint: it’s not a dog!), the Oscar-winner brought his A-game.

After nine-year-old Kersean asked when his last adventurous day with his kids was, McConaughey immediately answers, “Yesterday, actually!” before detailing a beach day with Levi, Vida and Livingston where the family went wake-boarding and the kids recorded in-the-waves footage.

“Levi’s actually working on a short video of it action sequence of two super-heroes going out to catch waves,” says McConaughey, 50, who exclusively opens up for this week’s PEOPLE cover story about his life, his new memoir, Greenlights, (for which he also taped a Spotify companion show) and the “awe-inspiring” gift of fatherhood.

matthew mcconaughey
Matthew McConaughey
| Credit: Levi Mcconaughey

The star smiled warmly and gave a thumbs up when sweet three-year-old Madison wondered about the “most fun” thing he does with his mom. “Three years old, you’ve got it together girl!” he says before telling Madison about his mom, Kay, who moved in with the family during the pandemic.

“Well, my mom’s 88. We’re pretty good at [doing] puzzles together [and] she really likes it when I take her on hikes. She’s in really good shape [and] she can climb mountains – a lot of time I have to hold her hand now because of her balance, but...we go on hikes, talk about life together and that’s the way we catch up.”

McConaughey shares that he grew up with both cats and dogs — “from Muffin to Cinco to Boy”, as he tells third-grader Joseph – before acknowledging that his favorite pet was a cat named "Muffin."

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“She was this black cat and ever since I was a little kid, at the end of the night she always slept with me – two places, either between my legs or up on my head...and  she would...purr and sort of scratch my head and I remember I’d wake up in the morning and there’d be a big puddle of Muffin’s drool.”

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Sisters Michaela, 12, and Talia, 10, hone in on one of the high points of McConaughey’s career – the night he took home the 2014 Best Actor Oscar for his moving performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club. The star calls the experience of winning the award “wonderful, wonderful, wonderful” before responding to Talia’s burning question: Where does he keep his Oscar?

“I keep the Oscar at our home in Austin, downstairs in the kitchen — where the kitchen meets the bar in the living room, so it’s sort of out amongst other things and it’s not where’d you’d notice it,” he says.

“It’s amongst other artifacts and pieces of art in our home and it becomes a great conversation piece!”

For more from PEOPLE’s exclusive interview with Matthew McConaughey and an exclusive excerpt from his memoir, Greenlights, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.