The tiny white cat was alone, wet, hungry and stranded on top of a 1,500-foot mountain peak.
His stark white fur left him exposed to predators.
But volunteers with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville were determined to save him, Jackie Teeple, spokeswoman for the rescue, told The News & Observer.
The cat, now called “Elgee” was spotted by hikers on Looking Glass Rock in Brevard earlier this month.
The hikers fed the little cat some jerky and gave him some water, but weren’t able to get hold of him, Teeple said, so they posted about him on Facebook, and Brother Wolf was alerted.
Brother Wolf field operation manager Eric Phelps, along with rescue volunteers Mary Ann and Bill Pruehsner, set out up the mountain to rescue Elgee, a 6.5-mile, three-hour hike.
“Something I have always admired about our team is that there’s not much that can stand in the way between us and an animal in need — including an incredibly steep hike up a mountain,” Teeple said.
The three rigged an Army backpack frame to carry a humane animal trap, Teeple said. A can of cat food in the trap landed a very hungry Elgee in fewer than five minutes.
When the three found Elgee, he weighed less than 6 pounds and had parasites, Teeple said.
“Luckily we’d had rain that week so he had water, and after the Facebook post people knew to leave whatever trail food they might have carried up,” Teeple said.
“Our biggest concern was predators since his white coat would have made it nearly impossible for him to hide.”
The next step for Brother Wolf was to find Elgee a home. He was named for the peak he was found on — Looking Glass.
Elgee’s rescuers, Bill and Mary Ann, were not looking for another cat. They already had two rescue cats. But in the process of rescuing the little white cat with brown and black markings, they fell in love, Teeple said. And it was almost like fate.
“On a hike 20 years ago — almost to the day — they had rescued their first cat, Blackledge, from a similar experience. Blackledge was also skinny and fearful from surviving on her own in the forest,” Teeple said.
But Mary Ann and Bill nursed Blackledge back to health and taught him to overcome his fears. They did the same with their current two cats.
“Having worked with shy cats before, they were the ideal candidates for adoption, and after just a few days decided to make it official,” Teeple said. “He will have two other cat siblings and will never have to fend for himself again.”
Elgee is slowly being introduced to his new home, starting with a crate in his new parents’ bedroom.
“He’s making very good progress,” Teeple said. “They even bought a camera to check on him while still respecting his space and need to adjust.”
But how Elgee managed to get stranded on the top of a mountain remains a mystery.
“It’s hard to guess how he might have ended up so far from civilization,” Teeple said. “He was an unneutered male and they tend to roam. It’s possible he was in a car at the parking area with visitors and got loose, but no one answered his stray report listing. Finally, he may have been left there in the hopes someone would take him home. He isn’t feral, so we suspect he did have a family at some point.”
Brother Wolf helped rescue about 6,000 animals last year, Teeple said, through adoptions, foster care and a program that works to keep pets with their families in times of crisis.