Elliot the cat was near death when Kelli Vanderlaan found him literally frozen to the concrete in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, during one of the coldest, most severe storms to sweep the US in decades.
Initially unsure whether the white and gray stray was still alive, as his eyes were frozen shut, Vanderlaan wriggled him free and took him to the Big Lake Community Animal Clinic in Muskegon, Michigan. Although barely able to move and unable to vocalize, Elliot seemed to be grateful for the car’s heat.
“You could tell that he was obviously frozen, so he needed warmth and touch and everything, I think he was pretty happy when I got him into the truck,” Vanderlaan told the local ABC affiliate, WZZM.
Once Vanderlaan and the stray arrived at Big Lake, staff there immediately began gently raising the little guy’s temperature, wrapping him in warm blankets and giving him fluids.
“We weren’t sure what he’s been through,” said Alexis Robertson, executive director of the local Humane Society. “He’s definitely been out there for a while trying to take care of himself, just trying to survive, but it was at a critical point where he was ready to pass.”
After giving Elliot a veterinary exam, cleaning his eyes and making sure he was snug, the staff at Big Lake Community Animal Clinic monitored him closely overnight. His organs had been dangerously close to shutting down when he was brought in, and he still wasn’t out of the woods yet.
Elliot, who was named after the storm that swept the region over the holidays, has continued to improve in the days since. He’s since been able to stand on his own and has regained his appetite, the clinic’s staff wrote on Facebook.
“We are so happy to say he is doing much better and was monitored during the night,” staffers wrote. “He reaches out his paw to the vet tech that has been caring for him overnight, showing her just how happy he is that he is being helped. He still has a long way to go, but we won’t give up.”
Elliot, who was described as an “older” cat who’s been fending for himself, will come out of the ordeal with his life much improved. After surviving the storm — which plunged temperatures well into the single digits, set record lows across much of the midwest and claimed the lives of at least 56 people across the country — Elliot will be put up for adoption, and the clinic has already received inquiries from people who want to open their home to the little survivor. If his will to live and his gratitude toward his rescuers are any indication, the little guy has a lot of love to give.
“It’s the most heartfelt feeling in the world to see this cat come from basically nothing and being vocal and happy to be touched and fed, it’s just an amazing thing to watch,” Leah Wetmore, the clinic’s manager, told WZZM.