It was faint at first. I’d catch a whiff of something very off-putting, but then it would fade. I thought there may have been something stuck in the garbage disposal. I kept cutting up lemons and putting them down the disposal thinking it would do the trick. It didn’t. I was lighting scented candles and leaving windows open, to no avail. I simply couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from. It was stronger in some rooms than others but it was spreading throughout the house. When I noticed the cat pawing at an air vent, the light popped on over my head. I got on my hands and knees for a close sniff at the vents. That’s when I knew something had died in the air duct. Judging from the cat’s reaction to the smell, I figured it was a mouse. Knowing there was a dead animal in my heating and cooling ducts was a horrifying thought. I had to get the little guy removed and whatever parts of my HVAC system it had touched, thoroughly cleaned. Some HVAC companies told me to call animal control first to remove the mouse. I didn’t have the patience for that. I finally found an HVAC technician who agreed to remove the rodent. Turns out it was an unfortunate chipmunk that caused the foul smell the air handler had spread throughout my home. The HVAC technician removed the carcass, cleaned the section of ductwork where the chipmunk died and changed out the filter for the furnace and air conditioner. He ran a check on the entire heating and cooling system then suggested I consider adding an air purifier to help with cat dander. I decided to go for it. I only want clean air inside my house from now on.