A kitten that seriously lost its way more than a week ago will end up having a very meowy Christmas now that she's found a new home.
It's all thanks to the efforts of Elmhurst police and an Elmhurst resident who refused to give up on the little furball.
Police got a call around 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, from a homeowner who said a stray kitten was stuck in their window well.
"The service officer went and found that she couldn't reach (the kitten) because she was down in the drain pipe in the window well," said Elmhurst Det. David Rivkin, who didn't release the name or address of the homeowner for privacy reasons. "The pipe extends about 7 feet straight down. We're thinking she was just peeking down in there and slid all the way down."
Rivkin said the base of the pipe had a bend in it, but for reasons unknown, the 1- to 2-month-old kitten did not explore the rest of the pipe.
"We weren't sure where it led to," he said. "We assume it surrounded the whole house, like drain tiles that lead to a sump pump. However, on all of our visits, she would be there in the elbow. We can assume she would have been lost had she traversed the whole pipe."
Getting the kitten out of the pipe was no simple task. Rivkin said the kitten was likely down there for about nine days.
"When the first call came (Dec. 11), the caller said she had been hearing the cries for about two to three days," he said.
Rivkin and service officers returned to the house multiple times over the course of the week to check the progress.
"I spent a couple of hours throughout the week, dropping by there, just seeing if we could get her out," Rivkin said. "We tried putting something down there she could climb up on. We tried glue pads she might stick to. We tried vacuuming her out. We tried a lot of different things."
Police and the residents continued to put food down into the pipe to keep her alive. Finally, using sticky pads and climbing things that had been placed in the pipe, the kitten somehow got herself out on Sunday, Dec. 16, Rivkin said.
"She must have climbed out on her own, because she was in the window well that Sunday morning," Rivkin said. "We were in constant contact with (the homeowner), and they took an active role, following our suggestions. They didn't give up on her."
She was "sort of grungy," but none the worse for wear, he said.
"I visited her at the animal hospital and she was fine, and she's going to be adopted," he said.
A story with a happy ending usually comes with a lesson, and this one is no different.
"The city reminds and encourages homeowners to cover their window wells or the drains within them," Rivkin said. "Make sure there is a grate on it so nothing can crawl down there."
He said most are covered by a grate or gravel, but in this case, the pipe opening protruded above the gravel.
He said Elmhurst officers come across animal cases all the time, but this one was unique.
"In my 20 years, this is the first case like this one I've participated in," he said.