03/25/2011 at 04:00 PM EDT
Who says three's company? When Simon Helberg welcomed a trio of rescue cats into his life, the actor got more than he bargained for.
"I didn't know cats had such big personalities until we got the first one," he told PEOPLEPets.com at the Humane Society of the United States' 25th Genesis Awards on March 19. "They're like little tigers."
Now a proud dad to three boys, Helberg can't quit gushing about Marlowe, 5; Clouseau, 4; and Columbo, 2.
"They're all named after detectives," he said. "Actually, they are all in chronological order ... in terms of when those characters were created. Marlowe is Marlowe from the Noir era, and then you've got Clouseau [from the Pink Panther
movies] and then Columbo. They're all inspectors."
Making their namesakes proud, Helberg added that his boys are "wise beyond their years," but possess three distinctive personalities that sometimes leave the actor scratching his head.
"Marlowe is very dog-like and he'll come when you call him," he said. "Columbo is the runt and he attacks everybody all the time ... he attacks Clouseau and Clouseau cries and runs away, but he's bigger ... I could sort of stare at them all day and try to read their minds."
But instead, Helberg's holding out hope that one day his cats will just make parenting easier on him.
"I'm waiting for them to talk," he said, "and they have yet to say a word." Read more about celebrities and their pets on PEOPLEPets.com:Susan Sarandon's Dog: Future Oscar Winner?Lily Allen Brings Home an Irish Wolfhound Puppy