Smush the Instagram Cat with a Cleft Lip


There’s a new feline face on Instagram and it might look little different from the kitties you’re used to.

Meet Smush!

Smush gets her name from the unusually adorable arrangement of her furry face; however, her unique look is the result of several genetic abnormalities and a cleft lip.

Smush is taking her differences in stride and is using them to build a social media empire. The Instagram newcomer already has more than 13,600 followers and is gaining more by the minute.

Photographer Shannon Jackson calls herself ‘mom’ to this rescue kitty. The pair first met while Jackson was volunteering at Helping Hands Pet Rescue, where she takes photos of the shelter pets to attract potential adopters. The animal lover first spotted Smush on Facebook (the perfect spot for a burgeoning social media star) through photo updates posted by friend and Helping Hands cat coordinator, Lindsey Hidenrite.

Courtesy Shannon Jax Productions

“When it came time for her to be up for adoption, I reached out to Lindsey to see if she had a home yet — and she didn’t!” Jackson, one of Smush’s first avid followers, told PEOPLE. 

Before taking the plunge into pet parenthood, Jackson checked with her wife Sarah about adopting Smush and found that “Sarah was also following Smush’s updates via Lindsey and we just decided right then and there that we’d try it out.” 

Courtesy Shannon Jax Productions

After a one-week foster trial, Sarah and Shannon were thoroughly in love with Smush and made the adoption official.

It was a long road to adoption for the kitten, who was plagued with health issues when she first arrived at Helping Hands.

Courtesy Shannon Jax Productions

“When she was a tiny kitten she wasn’t eating on her own so she had to be syringe fed every four hours or she would have been euthanized,”Jackson explained. “She had a terrible case of ringworm and was on a bunch of medications and had a lot of lyme baths. She also had an upper respiratory infection. All of this was cleared up when she was in her foster homes.”

Courtesy Shannon Jax Productions

Now she is perfectly healthy!

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The survivor kitty has joined a full house. Along with Shannon and Sarah, Smush shares her abode with three-legged dog Bean, two other canines, three cats and one hedgehog.

Courtesy Shannon Jax Productions

A true enchantress, Smush instantly got along with all of her animal siblings, though she’s dealing with a tiny bit of envy from Homer the Hedgehog.

“I never expected the reaction to Smush that has occurred but it’s awesome! Homer the Hedgehog has had an Instagram for over a year now and he only just hit 1,000 followers, He is jealous,” Jackson said. 

Courtesy Shannon Jax Productions

Humans love Smush, too! Jackson said she has received numerous messages from the feline’s fans explaining how looking at Smush’s special face has helped them get through a bad day.

“I hope that people can see the value of pet rescue and go and adopt their own friend from the shelter instead of the store,” Smush’s proud owner said. “I also hope to put a little love and light into the world with her daily antics.”

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