I will completely understand if you don't want to read the following, which contains a description of Sputnik's death. It was important to me to write it out as part of the grieving process, but it's not by any means pleasant to read even if I have left out the details. Hence, it's under a cut and all comments are screened.
We got a call early in the morning on Wednesday from a woman over the road who thought she'd seen him. She said she saw a black and white tuxie almost every day, but she stopped seeing him the day he disappeared and then when he suddenly reappeared, she remembered our posters. She ran out to the lamp post, found our number and phoned right away. It so happened that I was working from home (and thank goodness for that because I don't like to imagine having to make the journey home from London once he'd been found). I dashed over, but he'd gone from her garden. She was very nice - had two cats of her own and occasionally fostered as well. She said she was certain the cat she'd seen was the one in the poster and that the date of Sputnik's disappearance coincided exactly with the day she stopped seeing him.
I think the most likely scenario is that he got locked in a shed over the road on Thursday evening and was let out or escaped the following Wednesday morning. When he tried to run over the road, he must have been trotting along more slowly than usual through hunger and dehydration, and misjudged his timing. The person who hit him must have thought he was all right on seeing him scamper away. They couldn't have seen that his face had been damaged when he was struck.
His body was wedged in the hedge between our house and our neighbours', right next to the bins. (The bloke would have seen him that morning when he left for work if he'd been there earlier.) It looked like he was trying to get home and in the struggle to fit through the gap in the hedge, he breathed his last, four feet from our front door. I don't think he suffered long, poor little fellow.
His territory must have been much bigger than we thought if he was a regular visitor over the road. I suspect it was a journey he typically made at night when traffic was light. He must have been so happy to be released and eager to get home that he tried to come straight back and ended up disoriented on a very busy road instead.
It saddens me even further to think that he might have been trying to scurry home just when I was out looking for him, walking back from the nice woman's house and shouting for him.
Telstar brought us half a squirrel last night. (Usually we are only presented with trophy tails.) He & Sputnik used to share their bigger kills, so I think he was confused about why he was being left to eat the whole thing.