Imogene's litter box is in a corner of the laundry room. Sometimes she goes a bit wild digging and scratching at the box, and since the laundry room is fairly centrally located in the apartment, it's a very audible activity. Over the weekend, it seemed like I was hearing her do this a ton. It sounded like she was bumping the box around, kicking up lots of litter against the wall. Then I realized she was also trying to get around the sides of the washer and dryer, as well as jumping on top of them. Well, that also explained some of the sounds - just her jumping onto the washer.
Gradually it dawned on me I was hearing these sounds while seeing Imogene elsewhere in the apartment.
Well... maybe there's a new puppy or something next door, and I'm just hearing it bang against the wall? No, it was too loud, definitely coming from inside the laundry room. I narrowed it down to either the dryer hose or inside the wall itself. By Sunday night, I was convinced there was a rodent inside there somewhere, but mostly managed to push it out of my mind and not think about it too much.
Monday morning, though, as I was getting ready for work, there was more noise, it seemed louder and more frantic, and Imogene started to look more creeped out as well. It was really loud for just a rat or mouse, though. Given how long it took me to realize the noise wasn't being made by Imogene, it really did sound like something the same size as her - and the idea of a 9-pound rat in my laundry room was terrifying.
Eventually, I decided to shut Imogene in the bathroom, and also shut the door to the laundry room to keep anything from escaping into the rest of the apartment. I called the apartment office as soon as they opened and asked that they send maintenance to look at the laundry room and confirm there was something alive there, and call pest control to take care of it. I had a dentist appointment over my lunch break, and stopped by my apartment before returning to work to let Imogene out of the bathroom for a little bit. I still hadn't heard back from the apartment office, and it was clear they hadn't been there yet. At first all was quiet, then I shook the washer a bit, and the - thing - started moving again, banging around the dryer hose.
Since I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately (I think I even got Abe hooked on it!), and in the past have had recurring nightmares about cats entering my home and not being able to tell them apart from my actual cats, I'd almost convinced myself that the cat I was holding was just a figment of my imagination that would disintegrate into dust if someone pointed a sonic screwdriver at it, and the real Imogene somehow crawled into the dryer. (Seriously - I almost texted Abe to ask if he had truly seen and held Imogene while at my apartment over the weekend, to confirm that the real cat hadn't been trapped in the wall the whole time).
Finally, just an hour later, I got a voicemail from one of the apartment managers letting me know that she and the maintenance guy had gone in. First they thought they heard it in the wall, and cut a hole in the drywall but nothing was there. Then they started taking apart the dryer hose... and a little beak peeked out! And then the bird flew out, and they got it to go outside.
I feel so bad for that little bird now! I think it was trapped inside for at least two or three days. (Would I feel this bad if it had been a rodent... I'd like to say so, but I don't think I would.)
Maintenance has to come back later this week to finish repairing the drywall from the hole they cut in it, but otherwise the ordeal is over. It sounds like the apartment management hasn't had to deal with this particular situation before!