Tributes as Hayling Island's cat king Pip - known for his regular trips to Tesco - dies aged 16
HEARTBROKEN cat lovers have paid tribute to a popular feline widely known for his daily trips to Tesco, a pet shop and residential home.
More than 1,200 people have shown an outpouring of sadness after Hayling Island co-owner Cari Wichall announced Pip the West Town cat had died.
People have sent in flowers, cards and hundreds of messages on social media.
In her post, Cari said: 'It is with great sadness that I have to tell all that knew him that Pip passed away. West Town has lost its king.'
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Pip, whose surname became ‘the West Town cat’, as he quickly became well known on the island, died from kidney failure aged 16 on July 26.
He was often spotted by residents gesturing to food items with his paw or sitting in aisles in the Tesco Express store in Station Road.
His second co-owner, Jenny Shayegan, from Animal Magic in Station Road, said Pip was known to jump into holidaymakers’ cars.
She said: ‘He's become the community cat because he just caused so much havoc in the Tesco car park, he wouldn't move.
‘If you went to park your car, he would sit in the parking space, and people knew him - so they knew they just had to move somewhere else.
‘I'd never known any cat like it. Pip liked to visit everyone around here: the hairdressers, the pub, the butchers, he used to go everywhere.
‘'I reckon he came back as a cat, and he was a human being before, he was just so clever. He wasn't scared of anything.
‘You could have the biggest dog come and sit in front of him and he would not move.’
Since Pip was three years old, Jenny and Cari shared the responsibility of looking after him.
His first owner, Sadie Hughes, moved away and because Pip ‘loved it so much’ in West Town, she asked the pair if he could stay in their care.
On one of Pip’s adventures, aged three, he jumped into Jenny's delivery van and ended up in Arundel Aviaries and Fisheries in Arundel Street, Portsmouth.
Owner Cari said: 'He was clever enough to stay by the pet shop in Portsmouth.
‘He knew that was somewhere he should be, and that's why they took him to the vets and checked his chip.
Jenny added: 'Lucky enough, we managed to get him back, but this is what he was like.
‘You'd have to watch him with delivery trucks and things like that. He must have had about 20 lives.'
According to his owners, Pip formed such a strong bond with employees at the Tesco Express in Station Road that some staff were crying on hearing the news of his passing.
Toby O'Neill, a Tesco worker, said: ‘Pip was a massive part of our community. Everyone saw him every single day.
‘Whenever we used to lock up, he'd always sit outside the door as our little security guard. Sometimes he'd sit outside the door as people came in and out.
‘In the evening, he'd often run into our store and always head into the pet aisle. He'd hide in between the food items. He did it quite a lot with the sweet aisles, which was really cute.
‘In the end, with the number of times he came in, and us coming in and out to remove the cat, we just gave up, and I think, in the end, he was just one of our employees.
Pip's owners will scatter his ashes under his favourite tree and place a plaque on the wall of the pet shop in his memory.
Cari added: ‘We've had cards and flowers. I've had people knocking on my door. They've been coming into the pet shop crying, everybody's so sad.’