Anubis has been found! I think there is an equal amount of relief from both the human and feline contingents of our household.
After a couple days with no sign of him, my wife and I were growing quite worried. In truth, my wife tells me now, she was convinced that he was already dead after the cold weather of the previous nights, but she was continuing to put a brave face on it for me. We were about to go to FedEx to get nice copies of our fliers printed, when I looked outside and saw cat tracks in the snow on the deck. I had no reason to believe they were his tracks or another cat’s, but I followed them to the side of the deck, and sure enough, he was there in the far corner of the crawlspace. We called to him and offered him food but he refused to come, much as he did the first night.
Unable to reach him, we quickly purchased and set up a Havahart trap. We baited it with his soft food, and a cooked chicken breast. We knew he likely wouldn’t approach it right away, so I slept on the couch last night with an alarm set to wake up every two hours and check the trap. It was sprung once at 02:00, and again around 04:00, but nothing was actually in the trap. I moved it up to the deck itself to see if we would have more luck. We were only successful in catching one of the other strays, whom my wife calls “Owl Cat”.
Over the course of the day, we called SPCA, animal control, and (at the suggestion of our vet) a pest control company. Unfortunately, they all said that the clearance for our deck was so tight1, they didn’t think they would be able to help. One suggested pulling up the boards of our deck, but as we are renting, that wasn’t an option. It was beginning to seem hopeless.
I’m a stubborn man though, and with the temperature expected to drop to 18° F, we weren’t willing to risk leaving him out there. So, my wife ran out and got me some digging supplies and a headlamp, and when I got home from work, I set myself to the task of digging myself a trench with which to crawl to him.
After about four hours of digging, I had managed to get myself eight feet into the 18 foot crawlspace. I was about to give up and set the trap beneath the deck for the night when Anubis began to inch his way towards me. He came close and tentatively sniffed my hand before giving it a gentle headbutt.2 I slowly backed up and coaxed him out with me. After a few false starts, I managed to get him inside.
Anubis is very skinny, but otherwise seems OK. We suspect he hasn’t eaten at all over the last few days. We’ve got him in a bathroom with some food, water, heated blankets, and a litter box. We’ll be taking him to the vet first thing tomorrow for a checkup, but that’s tomorrow. For tonight, we are just relieved.