Ian Somerhalder knows what people are thinking about his new Netflix show, V-Wars: Another vampire franchise? But his character, Dr. Luther Swann, is very different from his Vampire Diaries alter-ego, Damon Salvatore, and the show itself has little in common with TVD beyond the existence of blood-suckers.

鈥淚f Robert Pattinson announced in a week that he was going back and doing another vampire franchise, people would just think he鈥檚 absolutely nuts,鈥 Somerhalder quipped to Brit + Co in a recent interview to promote National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. 鈥淪o when this came out, I had so many of my friends calling and saying, 鈥榃hat are you thinking?鈥 But this is a different world.鈥

The actor told us that while V-Wars is indeed a genre show, the performances are 鈥済rounded in reality,鈥 and the series deals with a lot of social issues that are relevant to our real lives. 鈥淚t鈥檚 an amazing 30,000-foot view of what鈥檚 going on in the world right now,鈥 he said. For one thing, the epidemic of vampirism starts because of climate disruption. 鈥淸There鈥檚] this ancient biological pathogen that鈥檚 been dormant, covered in ice for many years, but because of the ice melt, things are getting exposed and it wreaks havoc on the world,鈥 he explained.

Somerhalder鈥檚 character, Dr. Swann, is one of the people trying to stop that havoc. 鈥淗e lives under the constraints of mortal man,鈥 the actor shared. 鈥淗e鈥檚 just a guy, a dad, a husband.鈥 Well, not just 鈥 Somerhalder teased that there might be more to Dr. Swann than meets the eye. 鈥淲hile he may seem like the traditional hero, he definitely has some skeletons in his closet that make him human.鈥

V-Wars doesn鈥檛 yet have a premiere date, but it鈥檚 likely fans will have to wait until 2019 to see Somerhalder in action. In the meantime, he has his hands full with actually filming the show, taking care of his 1-year-old daughter Bodhi (whom he welcomed with Nikki Reed in July 2017), and working on his foundation, which promotes conservation of wildlife and natural resources and also provides grants and education aimed at protecting the planet and everyone who lives here.

That includes both wild and domestic animals. Somerhalder and Reed have nine pets between the two of them, and he鈥檚 passionate about making sure they鈥檙e loved and cared for just like any other member of the family. 鈥淚t鈥檚 truly incredible, what they give to your life and what they give to your family,鈥 he gushed to Brit + Co. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a lot of fur, a lot of little personalities, a lot of food, a lot of poop. But there鈥檚 just something very special about growing up with animals, and how it sort of informs the person you become. You have a different sense of compassion, patience, gratitude.鈥

Somerhalder鈥檚 love of animals is why he partnered with Royal Canin on a campaign to promote Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. 鈥淲hile I know that we鈥檙e all busy in this life and there鈥檚 a lot happening, these are our kids, and they need to be properly taken care of,鈥 he told us. 鈥淸At ISF] we see a lot of animals that have not been properly cared for. And I know cost can be an issue, but the overall cost of preventative health care pales in comparison to health care costs for a sick animal.鈥

National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day is August 22, but as Somerhalder notes, 鈥渁ny day is great鈥 to get your family pet checked out. 鈥淭here needs to be not just awareness but action out of a campaign like this,鈥 he said. 鈥淚f you haven鈥檛 already, make sure to schedule that appointment and get that kitty to the doctor. A healthy animal is a healthy household.鈥

(photos via Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for PTTOW! + Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com)