After the banging and scratching had gone on for like 30 minutes, Matt went outside with a flashlight to see what was up there — cats usually are not entertained for such long periods of time — and said that he thought he saw one cat up there (though he later informed me that its tail was awfully poofy for a cat).
So we ignored the scritching and started to get ready for bed, when the noise started to seem to get closer. The chimney flue runs right next to our bedroom wall, and I thought, "Oh no, one of the cats has fallen into the chimney!" So we went downstairs to explore, and that's when we realized that the scratching was coming from inside the walls. And it was moving. Elliott followed it all around the kitchen as it ran along the inside of the ceiling.
MOM! THERE'S SOMETHING UP THERE, MOM!
Matt hauled a ladder out to the balcony to see if he could see anything, and that's when he realized there was a giant hole in the siding around our chimney. (Not the section we replaced.) So it would have been easy for an animal to get in next to the fireplace and crawl around in the walls.
(Taken the next day.)
By this time, it was around midnight, and neither Matt nor I wanted to go to sleep. We weren't even sure we wanted to stay in our house, because I had visions of rabid animals busting through the sheetrock and getting Elliott. We were both on our computers, looking up what options we had for animal removal, and trying to figure out what kind of animal it was. (Based on the noises and this website's description of animal noises, I'm pretty sure we had a raccoon.) Eventually, we heard it scamper upward through the chimney, and didn't hear any more noises afterward, so we assumed it had gone.
So we did the only thing we could think of: we called Matt's parents. And not only were they nice enough to answer the phone at midnight, but they came out the next day to help us replace the siding on the chimney so we don't have any more crazy animal escapades. And luckily Matt still had a few sheets of siding left over from our last project, so we completed this one relatively quickly. (Painted the siding, used the old piece as a template to cut the new piece, nailed the new piece up and then caulked and painted the whole chimney since that needed to get done anyway.)
TAKE THAT, RACCOON.
Have you ever gone up on your roof? Sorry that's a lame question, but I don't have a better one. (And my answer is hellz no, I am scared of tumbling off and breaking my head. I let Matt do all the hard work while I painted siding in the front yard. And reminded him frequently not to fall.)