Jennifer Love Hewitt

06/10/2004 at 03:00 PM EDT

Jennifer Love Hewitt
"You always look bigger (onscreen) and people are always really shocked when you meet them in person," Hewitt says of her small frame. "They always say, 'You're tiny!' "
Mario Anzuoni/Splash
Good thing Jennifer Love Hewitt is a cat lover – the perky actress gets chummy with the ultimate temperamental feline (albeit an animated one) for Garfield: The Movie. It's a playful turn for the 25-year-old actress, who broke out on the family drama Party of Five and screamed her way through the I Know What You Did Last Summer horror flicks. PEOPLE recently caught up with Hewitt to chat about her furry castmate, her dating life and some guilty pleasures.

Gossip magazines seem to romantically link you to someone new each week. How do you deal with that?
It's gotten funny now. It didn't used to be funny, but now it's hilarious because really and truly if I went out with as many people as they said I did, I wouldn't have time for a career. I would be in the makeup and hair chair all the time for men all day. I would be on my ninth date right now.

So how do you convince potential dates that you're not like that?
I can't. The only thing I can do is prove myself to people, but it does hurt me in my life. It puts a seed of doubt.

Are you a cat lover or a dog lover?
I used to have lots of cats – I had six cats at one time, but now I just have a dog.

What kind?
A Chihuahua. She's cute. She's 4 and her name is Mia.

Were you a Garfield fan?
I had watched the cartoon and I had read the comic in the Sunday paper. I thought he was adorable and really cute.

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That cat also likes to eat. What's your favorite pig-out food?
I do love Italian food. Any kind of pasta or pizza. My new pig-out food is Indian food. I eat Indian food like three times a week. It's so good.

In the movie you play a pretty sexy veterinarian.
I know but that wasn't the intention. I saw the movie the other day and I thought, I'm kind of tarty, what happened? Actually, I felt very demure compared to things like Heartbreakers.

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