ENGLEWOOD — When a fire broke out at Leticia Brown’s apartment Thursday afternoon, bystanders in Englewood — and later on social media — watched in awe as her cat, Hennessy, jumped paws spread from a fifth-floor window, landed almost perfectly on the grass below and ran off.
But for Brown, who watched from the ground as Hennessy jumped, the fear of losing her baby flashed before her eyes.
“I was so worried and I panicked,” Brown said Friday. “I saw him on the top of the ledge and I was thinking, ‘please jump baby,’ and he did. He made it over the wall. It was amazing. I never knew he could fly.”
The fire broke out at Eastwood Garden Apartment at 6531 S. Lowe Ave. Brown had been out running errands and returned home to find her apartment in flames. Fire Dept. spokesman Larry Langford said the blaze started as a kitchen fire. No tenants were injured.
Firefighters tried to get Hennessy to come out of the apartment but he wasn’t having it.
“They tried to coax the cat out, and the cat ran deeper into the apartment and got on the window ledge,” Langford said Thursday. “…The cat started to get closer to edge and looked like it was trying to make a decision on how to navigate the air.”
Then Hennessy went for it, launching out of the window bouncing once on the ground before landing perfectly, all caught on video.
“The blessing of him and me not being in there and no one getting hurt was the first thing, but looking upon it, I lost everything,” Brown said.
No one has been able to find Hennessy since. Langford said he was last seen walking around the building trying to find another way in. Brown said the fire most likely scared him away, and despite her efforts she’s been unable to find him.
“When he jumped, I never found him through all the commotion,” Brown said. “I guess he was scared because he was a house cat. I still can’t find him but I have hope.”
Brown said this year has been a rough one. Hennessy has been a key source of comfort after her boyfriend died. Now with her apartment and cat both gone, she said she’s trying to press through.
“I’m just praying very hard that everything works out,” Brown said. “All I had was my cat. It’s one of those times. People always have some kind of things happen in their life, but my world is gone. He’s all I had left.”
Monsconie Feemster, a resident and close friend of Brown, said he’s been helping to track down Hennessy.
“I haven’t seen the cat around, but I know Hennessy will come right to me,” Feemster said. “I hope I run into him. I’m thankful the cat made it. That was the first thing that came to mind when I heard about the fire: T and Hennessy.”
Laurie Maxwell, the director of community outreach for PAWS Chicago, said the organization is also volunteering to help find Hennessy. She said the first priority once he’s found is to check his health after the impact of the fall.
“Cats are predators, so they’re not going to show you they’re hurt unless they’re really hurt,” Maxwell said. “It’s likely that a cat outside of their environment will run and hide, so it’s going to be challenging to find him, especially with the large spaces that we have in a neighborhood.”
Maxwell added once Hennessy is found, PAWS will provide treatment free of charge.
“Our goal is to provide any kind of support to Hennessy’s owner and whatever he might need,” Maxwell said. “Once he is found, we will be there to offer free vet care to make sure that he is happy, microchipped, and anything we can do to hopefully get the cat healthy again and back in his home.”
While the search for Hennessy continues, Brown said she’s trying her best to have faith and believe in God. Experiences like this, she said, are a reminder to always be grateful.
“Life is short, and you don’t recognize it as you go day by day and your mind is jumbled,” Brown said. “You don’t realize the little things you miss out on. I want people to realize that life is short and appreciate everything you have. Everything can be gone in a second.”
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