Cat Saved from Hot Car Now Modeling for Target

by Britt
Photo credit: Piece of Cake /

It was a heartbreaking discovery for animal lovers in June 2002 when 47 cats were rescued from extreme heat in a vehicle parked at an eastern Minnesota rest stop. The cats were medically assessed, cared for, and adopted out to loving families.

Unfortunately, during the rescue, one of the cats ran off, leading to a month-long search.

A cat matching the missing kitty’s description was found sitting on a doorstop in the area and brought to Tuff Start Rescue by a good Samaritan. The cat was in rough shape after a sweltering heat and a month on the run.

“When he got to us, his jaw was severely fractured, his temperature wouldn’t read, he had a severe maggot infestation in his mouth, his ears, everywhere,” described Dr. Nicole Perreault, a veterinarian, and Tuff Start Rescue’s founder and president.

“It was like a visceral pain when I looked at him, and wondered, OK, what do we do here? What’s the most humane [thing to do?] but then he lifted his head and looked at me, and I thought, ‘OK, you have survived all this time to make it to this clinic and this rescue.’ So I was like, we’re gonna give this a shot.”

The cat, named Hercules, had a long road to recovery, including specialized foods, around-the-clock medications, and jaw surgeries to stabilize his jaw. Little did anyone know that this second chance was only the start of an impressive story…

Throughout his recovery, Hercules was under the care of his foster mom, Jill LeBrun.

Before long, it was clear that life with LeBrun wasn’t just a temporary stop in his journey. Accepting that it was meant to be, LeBrun officially adopted Hercules and happily welcomed him into her family.

Now ten years old, Hercules continues to thrive in LeBrun’s care. He loves bird watching, nibbling his favorite kitty treats, and being loved on by anyone and everyone.

He has also started a new chapter in his life.

After discovering a local animal talent agency was searching for cats “with unique faces” for upcoming work, LeBrun submitted a photo of Hercules for consideration. His adorable little face and tongue, always hanging out, quickly captured hearts, and he was called in for a photoshoot.

Shortly after the photoshoot, she was shopping at Target when she was met with a heartwarming surprise – a familiar face staring back from the store shelves.

“I got to the cat litter aisle, and all of a sudden, the whole aisle was like, Hercules’ face on all the rows of cat litter pails,” LeBrun described. “There was another woman in the aisle looking for products, and I had to stop myself from looking over at her and being like, ‘That’s my cat!’”

She confessed to being a proud cat mom, taking pictures of the products before straightening up all the pails to best showcase her adorable little model.

Why is LeBrun so excited to share Hercules’ story? She hopes his tale of recovery and success can help encourage others to consider fostering or adopting an animal in need -even if they look a little “different.” You never know when you’ll find your new best friend (or the next furry model).

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Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Indiana and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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