Update, 6:50 PM
We were gone most of the day, and when we came back, I headed outside to hang my laundry. As I was enjoying this bucolic reverie, I noticed a whiff of stink...a stench...an unmistakable odor of dead animal. It was faint, and came with the wind, but real.
That tears it - she's dead, I thought. She was bound to be, what with the chronic renal condition and the 98 degree day and the lack of water...but still, we had been holding out hope. I scouted the back of the yard - no pile of fur. I ventured farther and farther into the woods beyond the yard - occasional stronger scents, one sleeping squirrel, but no cat. Toast is a tortoise-shell creature, and the woods are full of brown leaves...this wasn't going to be easy.
Jesse came outside, headed to see a movie with a friend, and I had to tell him my news. I hated to send him off like that, but he deserved to know.
I went even farther into the woods, and finally caught the strongest scent yet. Then I saw it - a small, baby fawn - dead. It was very young, not even a foot high. I'd seen its mother wandering the woods today and yesterday, passing by this same spot, but never questioned it. There weren't any predator marks on its body, so I have no idea how or why it died - but it wasn't my cat.
She's still out there, somewhere.
Update, 10:50 AM
Query - are Dwarf hamsters toxic? Still no sign of Toast.
Update, 9:30 AM
- Found, one runaway hamster. Part of it, anyway.
- Missing, one cat. Presumably sated.