Becca had been chased up trees before, but she had always come down within a couple of days. This time was different.
The neighborhood cat, a feral calico, well-known to residents of the 2900 block of Desplaines Avenue in North Riverside for more than five years, ended up perched about 30 feet from the ground in the crook of two slender branches of a tree in the front yard of a townhome on the night of March 12.
The residents could tell she was up there because the cat wailed all night long. And it kept wailing, without food or water, for an entire week.
According to resident Angelica Martinez, neighbors were particularly concerned because they also feared Becca was pregnant. She credited her 4-year-old son, Benicio, with naming the cat.
“There’s a new black stray who has been around lately and they were meowing a lot,” said Martinez. “We noticed [Becca] had a belly a couple of days before.”
Becca has wandered the neighborhood for at least the last five years, said Martinez. A neighbor across the alley said the cat’s been around for a decade. She has ended up in the tree in Martinez’s yard at least twice before, but she’d always come down.
Not this time. Becca was in a tree a couple of doors north, and it was really stuck.
Neighbor Nancy Heffernan said she called the North Riverside Fire Department and was told the cat would come down in a couple of days. She said the police told her there was nothing they could do. Tree service companies declined to come out.
Meanwhile, Heffernan said, “the poor thing is starving to death and wailing all night long.”
Heffernan contacted the Landmark about the cat on March 19, a full week after Becca first lodged herself in the tree.
“We know it’s not a top priority, and we’re willing to pay for it ourselves so we won’t have to witness this,” she said.
After making a couple of inquiries at the North Riverside Police Department that morning, the Landmark is happy to report that Becca is no longer in the tree and was last seen sprinting away from the scene as fast as she could run.
By 11 a.m. on Monday, the North Riverside Fire Department arrived on the scene with their aerial truck while police shut down traffic. Within minutes, Firefighter Al Allen was high above the ground reaching for Becca.
But Becca wanted no part of Allen and bailed – falling 30 feet while swiping at a couple of branches on the way down. She fell through the arms of Lt. Doug Rayburn and hit the ground – and came away perfectly fine, apparently.
Becca ran off so fast no one could locate her after the rescue attempt, but residents should know soon enough if the stray calico has another life left.