From the Streets to Social Media Star

By Judy Layne

On May 28, 2020 SPCA Enforcement Officers were driving back to the shelter when they spotted a stray cat. The cat was very thin and had a huge wound on his face. He had clearly lived a hard life on the streets. He was brought to safety at the shelter and was rushed in for emergency veterinary care. Shelter staff named him Champ.

Medical care was the first critical step in 7-year-old Champ’s recovery. His wound scabbed over and healed but his right eyelid was permanently turned up. It was also discovered that Champ had feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), likely caused by previous trauma. Champ needed to heal emotionally too. Over the next week, staff and volunteers showered him with love and attention and worked hard to re-build his trust of humans. It was decided to place him in a loving foster home where he would be more comfortable while he recovered.

Champ’s foster fur-mom Lesli cared for him for six months. Then on November 10th, Champ’s wish for a loving home came true. Valerie Hemeon and her fiancé Jamie Lechmann were on the SPCA “Adoptables” webpage and Champ was the first kitty listed. Val shared “You could say it was love at first sight. Something about Champ drew us in – we knew he had a story to tell. While some people may search for a ‘perfect’ cat with no ‘issues,’ we took one look at Champ and decided that his wonky eye made him special and unique, and he deserved a loving home like any other pet.”

“When we met Champ for the first time, we had an immediate strong connection and we knew that he was the perfect fit for our family,” said Val. “The SPCA gave us excellent information on how to take care of his eye and his dietary needs due to FLUTD.” Then Champ was off to his new home.

“It took a few weeks for Champ to adapt to his new surroundings and to us,” related Jamie. “Vestiges of his life on the streets were evident. He was very scared of jackets, loud noises and people standing over him. But Champ settled in quickly in other ways. His foster family told us that Champ loved to drink from the sink. We didn’t really think much of it until we brought him home and then a few hours later, we couldn’t find him until we checked the bathroom and there he was, sitting in the sink waiting for the tap to be turned on! We couldn’t contain a little laugh and thought it was so cute how he knew exactly where to go for water. Since then, we find Champ in or by the sink asking for his tap water every single day!”

Champ’s eye doesn’t cause any problem with his vision, but he does need daily eye drops to prevent his eye from drying out.  “He takes the eye drops very well, like a ‘champ,'” Jamie chucked. “He doesn’t even need to be held to put the drops in. Because of his FLUTD, we feed him at specific times of the day to prevent any blockages in his urinary tract.”

Champ is definitely living his best life. Val shared “He absolutely loves going outside (under supervision). When we don’t have time to take him for a drive or to the park down the street, we allow him ample ‘screen time’ – opening the window so he can feel the breeze and watch the birds. He also enjoys playing with his toys and sprawling out with us for a good movie.”

Champ’s foster family played a huge role in setting him up for success, and they still have a presence in his life. Val explained “Lesli actually found us on TikTok and that’s how we connected. She kindly sent us photos of Champ while he was in her care. We live in Waterloo, ON now but we visited with Champ’s foster family when we were home for Christmas. Lesli was really excited to see Champ again and we plan to visit with them every time we’re in Halifax.”

Champ has won many hearts. “He’s called ‘Handsome Man’ in our home,” said Jamie. “It’s really just to let him know how special and beautiful he is.” Last year, the couple decided to create a TikTok account for Champ and today, he is a social media superstar with over 1,900 followers! “We set up the account to share the wonderful world we live in with Champ. We hope it will inspire people to give cats with unique characteristics and older cats a second chance at happiness.”

November 10, 2021 was Champ’s one-year adoptiversary. Val stated “We are so grateful that Champ came into our lives. He has brought us much joy and laughter and we are creating many special memories together. Champ definitely repays our love many times over. He’s also incredibly supportive. I had knee surgery in April 2021 and he never left my side the whole time I was recovering.”

The couple’s final thoughts? “Sometimes, the ‘perfect’ pet doesn’t fit the ‘norm,’ but that doesn’t mean they are less deserving of love. Champ’s imperfections make him perfect!”


Click here for a link to Champ’s TikTok account. Check out some of his awesome pictures and his wonderful adventures: @Champtherescue

Thanks to you, Champ is living his happily-ever after. Please help other animals like Champ by donating today.


Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Gracie. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.