Wolfie The Cat Isn’t Just A Social Media Star And Mascot, He Has An Inspiring Story

In late 2017, the Friends for Life Rescue Network rescued several kittens in downtown Los Angeles, beginning a journey that gave the volunteer-based non profit organization its mascot, an Instagram darling known as Wolfie Smiles. His story is so much more than that of a simple social media sensation, however, and serves as a testament not just to his own feline resilience, but to the devotion of dedicated animal lovers. The smallest of those rescued kittens, Wolfie was so named because of his permanent overbite with little pointy teeth that made him look like a werewolf (or werecat) and gave him a permanent "smile."

Before he was a uniquely photogenic cat, though, Wolfie was in the for the fight of his life. Against all odds and thanks to the love and round-the-clock care given to him by FFLN volunteers, the kitten not only survived, but has thrived. To support the FFLRN, which specializes in cats and dogs just like Wolfie, please consider donating, as well as fostering or even adopting an animal in need of a loving home.

  • Wolfie And His Siblings Were Found In An Alley On L.A.'s Skid Row

    On December 17, 2017,  Friends for Life Rescue Network was contacted about three kittens spotted in an alley in the Skid Row district of Los Angeles. FFLRN co-founder Jacqueline Santiago told Love Meow that when they got to the alley where the strays had been spotted, "I saw these three gray kittens run between the space between two buildings. They looked pretty young."

    Although the kittens avoided the drop trap Santiago set out, FFLRN was able to corral the three out of their hiding spot with food and soon got the strays to safety. The kittens were malnourished and dehydrated, and sadly, despite the best efforts of the volunteers, one of the three - the one the group had named Bear - soon passed away. The rescue group named the surviving siblings Foxy and Wolfie.

    Weighing just 15 ounces, Wolfie was about half the size of his sister. Despite his being underweight and having an obvious overbite, Santiago and the other FFLRN volunteers caring for the two kittens were not yet aware that Wolfie might have special needs. He seemed, at the time, to be eating just fine.

  • Wolfie Couldn't Handle Food And Had To Be Put In An Oxygen Chamber To Help Him Breathe

    Wolfie's health declined in the first few days after he and his siblings were rescued from that alley. Already weak and malnourished, he continued losing weight despite his rescuers' best efforts, as he was simply unable to keep solid food down. His situation worsened even more. At one point the kitten was gasping for air and had to be placed in an oxygen chamber. FFLRN took him to a vet clinic where an X-ray revealed that his esophagus was completely blocked by bits of food. 

    "None of the vets at the clinic had ever seen this before," Santiago told Love Meow in January 2018. He was then transferred to an Emergency Clinic.

  • An Emergency Vet Recommended That Wolfie Be Euthanized

    With the kitten dangerously close to death, a veterinarian at the ER clinic to which Santiago took Wolfie suggested that it might be wiser to put the kitten down. But Santiago wasn't ready to give up on the smallest cat in the trio she'd tracked down. When the doctor acknowledged that there was no clear diagnosis for the kitten's struggles, the FFLRN co-founder refused to euthanize Wolfie.

    Instead, vets performed an endoscopy, successfully flushing the food debris from Wolfie's blocked esophagus. When the kitten woke up a few hours later, he kneaded Santiago's hands.

    "It just made me feel like we were doing the right thing [in trying to save him]" she told The Dodo.



  • A Special Liquid Diet Helped Save Wolfie's Life

    As solid food had been unable to pass through his esophagus to his stomach, Wolfie was put on a liquid diet. Santiago and the FFLRN volunteers were instructed to feed him kitten milk every two hours and to hold him upright for five to 10 minutes after each meal to help allow the milk to successfully pass through to his stomach.

    Thanks to the endoscopy, vets discovered that Wolfie has a disorder in which overgrown tissue resulted in his esophagus being far too small to allow solid food to pass through. 

    After starting his special diet, Wolfie quickly began to gain weight and strength, a trend that continued into his adulthood. Instead of experiencing lethargy and continued illness, he became an active, curious, and playful young cat. He no longer has to be held upright after meals, though his underlying health issues require that his diet consist solely of a blended mixture of kitten milk and prescription Critical Nutrition.

  • Wolfie Was Unable To Regulate His Body Temperature

    Wolfie's tiny esophagus was not the only health issue that he has faced. For months after he was rescued, Wolfie had to live with a heating pad because he was unable to regulate his body temperature on his own. Without the heating pad, his internal temperature would vary along with his environment, whether hot or cold.

    A weakened immune system also resulted in health issues such as bronchitis and multiple upper respiratory infections.

  • Friends For Life Rescue Network Volunteers Worked Round The Clock To Save Him

    In addition to Santiago, many of FFLRN's Los Angeles-area volunteers have helped to provide Wolfie with round-the-clock care. In large part due to the tireless love and care provided by these volunteers, Wolfie's weight went from less than 15 ounces. to one pound, 14 ounces. within just one month of his trip to the ER.

    And he has continued to thrive - he currently weighs around nine pounds. A true testament to Wolfie's will to survive and to the dedication of FFLRN's volunteers.