[Fig. I not available. Consult your Goldberg Specialist.]
The housecat house trap shown here in Fig. I is cunningly designed to look just like a back staircase, entered from the outside via Slightly-Ajar Door (A). Enticed by the aroma of Kitty Pheromones (B) combined with Appetizing Food (C), Catnip (D) and Familiar-Scented Laundry (E), the behemoth cat is compelled to enter, climb the stairs (F) and remember that this (G) is indeed the house in which he lives. His litterbox (H) is also present to provide both a "This Is Yours!" reminder (and a reminder to other animals that "This Is Not Yours!") as well as a reason for him to remain happily ensconced in the upstairs loft (I) rather than wander outside and do his business in the backyard (K). The door to the kitchen (L) has been reinforced with several new locks and devices (M) to prevent larger creatures from gaining access into the interior. The Cat Recoverer, upon checking the housecat house trap, will enter through Slightly-Ajar Door (A) instead of the kitchen door (L) so as to prevent any unpleasant scares, ensuring the cat stays inside instead of running out like a freak on fire (N).
After a blisteringly cold night of howling winds, the first results were less than fruitful. Someone had evidently spent the night in the trap: the food was gone and catnip strewn about, but no cat remained. The pile of laundry remained undisturbed so it is not clear whether or not the animal visitor had slept over or merely held a Cat Party, gotten looped on the catnip, satiated their munchies and then stumbled out into the night. The second result is not wanted, as this is not a kitty rumpus room, it is a housecat house trap and there are distinct differences between the two.
Speculation as to the identity of the mystery guest have run rampant about the house. The culprit (besides the aforementioned Behemoth Cat who is our target in this operation) might very well be That Orange Cat, who has been seen several times before in our backyard and is most likely up to no good. The kind of fellow who'd get into your catnip and eat your tuna before running out to dance a jig of cleverness. There is also a local skunk, who has made hir presence known both visually and olfactorily in weeks past. The skunk is not as welcome as That Orange Cat, because the smell of skunk stink ("sktink") in the stairway would definitely overpower any kitty pheromones still lingering.
Plans may be in place to install a camera and present a live Housecat House Trap feed to the Internet, allowing casual viewers to enjoy a static view of the back staircase (litterbox helpfully placed off-camera) and possibly spot an animal making an appearance or perhaps review a series of pictures taken over a span of time to determine visitor movement; however, we have yet to determine if it would be a good idea to leave a door open at night with a light burning bright inside, regardless of the amount of reinforcements the kitchen door has received.
The neighborhood has been stuck with fliers and car windshield inserts and regular calls are being made to various shelters and vets in the area. Phone leads from the fliers have yielded naught but shelter advice from an anonymous local and a "big black cat" sighting on the other end of Highland from a few days back which, while not exactly helpful, warms one's heart considering that the caller gave the tip in all earnestness and helpfulness.
It is our hope that the Behemoth is nearby and will reveal himself once he's hungry enough to wander, or that he has been taken in by a kind taker-inner who will reveal his presence to a shelter or a vet (or us) soon enough. Possibly once he begins to eat them out of house and home. In the meantime, we continue to search and ask and hope.