The orange housecat Heathcliff will be returning to the screen in the form of a live-action theatrical feature through a collaboration between cartoon studio Magic Lantern Entertainment and rights holder FitzRoy Media.

According to Variety, the two companies will develop a range of properties, from direct-to-DVD toons to a potential live-action theatrical feature, centered around the flabby tabby, updating the popular comicstrip character for the 21st century.

Created by George Gately in 1973, Heathcliff remains in print today, written and drawn by Gately's nephew, Peter Gallagher.

"He's not your typical cuddly kitty cat. He's a really cynical, wisecracking character who has a contemporary perspective we could do a lot with," said Magic Lantern prexy Jeff Segal.

The first Heathcliff project is being developed as an animated DVD special for potential U release in 2011, though Magic Lantern's arrangement with the studio allows the company to expand it into a theatrical feature if the material warrants.