Kitten Rescued From Wheel Well Thinks He’s a Dog

Get to know Grunge, the hard-luck cat who has settled into family life with dog siblings.

By Annie B. Shirreffs | Posted: March 19, 2014, 4 p.m. EDT

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Rescue Cat

At first glance, Grunge Boy looks like a normal little cat. But how he came to live with his current family and how he behaved once he got there is anything but typical. 

The meowing started in the front yard around 8 p.m.  But every time Juliana Napoli-Gomer from Southern California went out to check, there was nothing there.

The next morning during several runs to and from her son’s school, Juliana thought she heard the meowing again.

She and her husband Matthew, searched in and around the car and were surprised to find a tiny kitten underneath the hood in the front wheel well. When they were eventually able to catch the kitten, they saw he was skin and bones, filthy and terrified. 

Although Juliana and Matthew agreed to keep the cat, Juliana, a lifelong dog person, wondered what in the world she would do with this little gray kitten.

Rescue Kitten

Transformational TLC

Juliana took the kitten she named Grunge Boy, to the veterinarian. When the vet picked up the 4-week-old baby, the dirt and fleas just fell off of him. "It was so sad,” Juliana says.

Grunge Boy stayed at the vet overnight for tests, fluids, a flea treatment  - and a bath. 

When Juliana went to pick up Grunge Boy the next morning, she realized that the little gray kitten from the day before was actually a beautiful white ball of fur!

Juliana took Grunge Boy home, where the family took turns giving the kitten lots of love and reassurance.

The family introduced Grunge Boy to their two boxers, Abby and Izzi, very slowly, supervising them while they sniffed each other’s blankets and checked each other out first from a distance, then eventually up close.

Abby immediately took on the role of mother and started licking him, and Grungy lay down right next to her. At first, Izzi seemed confused that they weren’t going to chase this strange little critter around the house, but she followed Abby’s example and introduced herself.

Sibling Influence

Now, at 7 months old, Grungy is happy and healthy, and a true member of the family. He, Abby and Izzi are the best of friends and are never far apart. Izzi and Grungy love to play; if their wrestling matches get out of hand, Abby steps in to make them stop.

Grungy also seems to think he is a dog. "If he could figure out how to bark, he would,” Juliana says. When someone comes to the door, he is right there to greet them. He loves to play fetch – in fact, he’s the only one who actually brings the ball back. He ignores his toys, preferring to play with the dogs’ instead. He refused to eat out of the cat bowl Juliana put in a different spot in the kitchen for him, so she had to buy a bigger bowl so that he can eat next to his dog sisters.

When Juliana pulls up into the driveway when she gets home from work, she is used to seeing the dogs poke their heads through the blinds. Now there is a third head in the window, and Grunge Boy runs to the door with the dogs to greet her.

The family has discovered the joys of having a cat around. "I honestly had no idea what to expect being a cat owner,” Juliana says. "I could not have dreamed how much joy this cat would bring into our lives.”


Rescue Dogs, a website dedicated to providing nutritious food to shelter animals, will donate 5,000 meals of Halo’s Spot’s Stew to the rescue organization of Juliana Napoli-Gomer’s choice.











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Kitten Rescued From Wheel Well Thinks He’s a Dog

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Reader Comments

Juliana    Fullerton, CA

3/27/2014 11:14:44 AM

Be still my heart! Thank you so much for the sweet and supportive comments!

James    Minneapolis, MN

3/21/2014 7:24:01 PM

What a wonderful story! And great pictures! I really needed this smile after a rough week. Thanks!

Gabriele    Los Angeles, CA

3/20/2014 10:55:12 PM

Ms Gray, who has been with me for at least 12 years now, was a wheel well kitten too. I would stop at the local Sams on my way home (half way, and I'd avoid the really bad traffic that way) and as I got out of my car I heard a small but loud meow...kitten-style. I went looking...the parking lot was well lit so I could look around and not see anything...followed the cries to a very big black truck (the kind you can't see into the bed from standing alongside it)...called out, kept hearing the cries but couldn't see in the bed of the truck...but it didn't sound like that either...looked all around on the ground...and then I stuck my head under the truck...and could hear the cries from someplace under the body...reached into the wheelwell, and there was a kitten...barely a handful..
Of course I took her to my car, put here inside (she crawled under the front seat), did my shopping and then took her home. I had another cat at home (a local stray who came to stay) but he ignored her. I put her in the bathroom, warm bed, food, water...she still cried. So I brought her into my bedroom and put her on the bed. Got into bed and she climbed on top of me...
I couldn't figure out how she got there and then thought maybe her mother had had her in the wheelwell (thinking it safe) and the owner of the truck drove to Sams.
She didn't understand cat food...I tried various special foods...but when I was petting her, she sniffed at my toast--bread was something she understood! Bread and mayonnaise was a special I think Momma Cat had been feeding her from discarded food.
I took her to the vet when she was old enough for shots and neutering...and it freaked her out and she made herself an outside cat (coming in through the window for food, as the older cat did)...then she gradually became a house cat...
I can understand Grungy copying the dogs..she wasn't old enough to have learned about being a cat from her mother.
But she is friendly with the local skunks, treats them like other cats (not fighting or personal contact) and she and a neighbor's cat get along...
When she was little I used to tell her I hoped her mother knew she had gone to a good home...I was so thankful I had decided to go to Sams that evening, and responded...

Trina    Walnut Creek, CA

3/20/2014 10:42:10 PM

Oh so precious! Thank you for saving Grungy! They all look so happy together! :)

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