Casper the British cat who made headlines around the world for regularly waiting in line and hopping on the local bus, was killed by a hit and run driver in his hometown of Plymouth, England, PEOPLEPets.com has learned.
Karen Baxter, a public-relations manager for First UK Bus, who operates local buses in the Plymouth area, confirmed that the cat was run over by a motorist outside his home on Jan. 14 and died from his injuries.
The cat's owner, Susan Finden, is devastated, The Herald newspaper reported. "I never dreamt I'd miss an animal as much as I miss him. He was lovely and loved people so much — he was such a different character," she said.
Finden found out about the cat's death when a neighbor knocked on her door to tell her she had seen a car strike the cat and then drive off. She took the cat inside after the accident, but sadly he was already dead, the newspaper said.
"If he'd been ill we might have prepared for it but it hasn't helped us that the driver didn't stop — we couldn't believe it," Finden said.
The geriatric feline, who was 12 years old last July when PEOPLEPets.com reported his story, would habitually leave Finden's home, trot across the street to the bus stop, wait his turn in line and board the bus. He even had a favorite seat — in the middle of the aisle — where he would sit until he was ready to get off.
"He just gets on and off as he wants to. Goes for a little ride," Baxter told PEOPLEPets.com in July. "If the drivers notice that he's there, they make sure that he doesn't get off at some random stop. The cat seems to know where to get back off, then he trots off home."
Casper, whose story was first reported by BBC News, was rescued by Finden from the Cat Protection League about four years ago. Finden noticed that Casper would occasionally disappear and eventually return home. She had even gotten a call from a parking garage a mile-and-a-half away but didn't know how he'd gotten there.
"The driver told me he gets on all the time," Finden told The Herald. "I couldn't believe it."
The cat's unusual hobby prompted Finden to write a letter to the First Bus Company, to bring attention to the furry passenger. "[Finden wanted] drivers just be aware of it so if they either saw the cat coming that they'd not let it on the bus, or once it was on the bus, not to kick it off in the city center because it would be miles away from home," Baxter said.
Casper was like any other senior citizen who uses public transportation in England. "In the U.K., people over the age of 65 travel on the bus for free," Baxter told PEOPLEPets.com. "So we worked out that the cat was about 111 years old in cat years, therefore it was fine. He can travel for free."