There's a story that's been distressing Gothamist since last Sunday: The bizarre and frightening story about a catnapping in Hell's Kitchen - and not the siesta kind. The NY Post reported that a couple's 2 year-old cat went missing in their apartment building; originally they thought the cat went missing because workers had been in and out of their apartment, so they plastered their building with fliers and offered a $1000 reward for Penelope's return. And then a letter appeared under their door:

Blackie is safe and warm with me and my family of 3 kitties. She has instantly bonded with our autistic child, and I cannot think of separating them. The reward is of no comparison to the amount of love and joy she brings to my daughter's heart. I know this will not assuage your grief, but know she is well looked after, loved and always will be. Regards, MN.

Creepy! The police became involved, but only three of the hundreds of apartments in 410 West 53rd Street had children, only one with a developmentally disabled child, and none with a cat. After their building management refused to help, a private investigator also found nothing. Gothamist wonders if the cat burglar made up the story in the note, to reassure the couple and gain sympathy with mention of an autistic child, plus also put them off his/her trail. The couple is hoping that a visit to the vet will note the microchip in Penelope and bring her back to them.

The couple had also been on vacation when Penelope went missing, which leads Gothamist to the question: What do you do with your cat when you head out of town? Leave him/her with lots of food and water, plus friends to visit. Or do you put the kitty in the kennel? And Gothamist totally wants Law & Order: Missing Pets Squad.

Photo of Penelope via the NY Post