Sammi finally turned up this morning--just walked in the back door nonchalant as you please. After having been out all night, though, she was plenty hungry! It must have been a rough night for her--we had quite a howling, lashing rainstorm. I expect she hid in the neighbor's shed. Rotten little girl--made us all worry! Her mom says she's grounded.
So why let our cats outside if they pull this kind of stunt now and then? Because they'd be miserable and go stir-crazy if they had to stay inside all day, every day. Both were feral/stray and are accustomed to a certain amount of freedom. It's just not in their natures to be forever house-bound, even if it means a longer life for them.