Beloved black cat Rooney passed away earlier this week after being found on a nearby road by a kind member of the public, who took him to a veterinarian.
An adored member of the Southsea Model Village team, Rooney had spent 10 years enjoying the attention of owners, volunteers, and customers while keeping watch over his tiny town.
Owner Mark Wilson paid tribute to his ‘little mate’, and said: ‘We’re absolutely gutted.
‘We inherited him from the previous owners - we think he was about 11 to 12 years old.
‘He’s going to be sorely missed.
‘It really is a shame.’
Alarm bells began to ring for the model village team when Rooney had been missing for a couple of days.
After seeing a local Facebook post saying that someone had found a black cat and taken it to the vets, Mark went along to identify the unfortunate pet.
Mark said: ‘It was our poor little Rooney.’
The vet thought Rooney had been hit by a car.
In a Facebook post, the team at Southsea Model Village said: ‘He was such an amazing little cat who had a great personality and loved being lord of the manor in his own little village.
‘He had been a part of the model village for over 10 years and will be sadly missed by all the owners, volunteers and of course all our customers.
‘We’d like to say a big thank you to the lady that found him and took him to the vets.’
Now Rooney will be laid to rest on Southsea Model Village’s Windmill Hill with a black cat statue placed on top of his grave to remember him by.
Mark added: ‘All our customers really love Rooney. He used to sit in the middle of the path waiting for attention.
‘People used to come down especially to see Rooney, give him treats, blankets.
‘He was a great little thing, phenomenal - I’d like to think he was the most famous cat in the country.’
In 2019 there was outrage after a teenager broke into the model village and was caught on camera kicking Rooney, and a year ago an intruder was spotted throwing stones at him.