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Nina Jacobson missed the day of Buttercup auditions

By Kelli Bender
Updated November 19, 2015 10:54 PM
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Cat’s out the bag.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay producer Nina Jacobson knows the wrong Buttercup was cast for the first Hunger Games film. And she only kind of knows why.

“I don’t know how that happened because somehow or another, I missed the casting of that cat,” Jacobson tells PEOPLE. “I am very present and active as a producer, but somehow I must not have been in the office that day or I must have been in another meeting.”

Hunger Games aficionados probably noticed that in the first movie, Buttercup appeared as black-and-white feline, a far cry from the cranky ginger-like cat described in Suzanne Collins’ book.

“I get to set the day that we’re shooting, and the cat just shows up and it’s a big black-and-white cat. And I was like, ‘What’s that in doing here? That’s not Buttercup!’ And I couldn’t get a new cat!,” the producer recalls of her moment of realization.

Fans weren’t the only ones bothered by the mistake — it got to Jacobson too.

“I was really obsessed with it for a long time,” she says. “You know, ‘Can we reshoot that? Can we digitally alter the cat?’ And Suzanne also was just like, ‘That’s not Buttercup! That’s a black-and-white cat!’ “

The feline snafu ended up becoming an issue for Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence, who also directed both Mockingjay films. The solution? Recasing the cat.

“We hired Francis, and I said, ‘What do you want to do about the cat?’ and he said, ‘Recast it,’ ” Jacobson says. “I called Suzanne and said, ‘I met a really wonderful director, and good news: He wants to recast the cat!’ “

Now an orange cat, closer to the “muddy-yellow” described in the book, plays the important role of Buttercup. And the rest is hiss-tory.

Read up on everything you ever wanted to know about Peeta, Gale, Katniss and more in PEOPLE’S Special Edition HUNGER GAMES: INSIDE ALL FOUR MOVIES, on newsstands now.

REPORTING BY ANNE MARIE CRUZ