Town mourns for Benji the cat who used to comfort grieving families at local cemetery

Benji the cat and his old stoping ground
What a good boy (Picture: Wessex News)

A whole town is grieving the loss of Benj the cat, who used to bring smiles to the faces of mourners by showing up purring at Hinton Park Woodland Burial Ground near New Milton, Dorset.

The sweet moggy was famous for showing up at funerals and walking with mourners to their loved ones’ graves.

Many said the Bengal cat’s presence helped them through their grief, but now it’s Tracey Fuller Jaques who needs consoling.

When Tracey shared the news of Benji’s death on social media, scores of people rushed to let her know how much the cat meant to them.

‘I knew he was popular,’ she said, ‘but I never imagined he had become so famous in the area.

‘Reading the stories about how he had given so much comfort to people has helped with the pain of losing him.

James and Benji
James was one of Benji’s many pals (Picture: James Beeson)

‘I am so proud that he was so loved by the community. He was such a special cat.

‘I have four others, but there will never be another like Benji.’

Poor Benji was run over in an industrial estate in New Milton where he would often visit offices and warehouses.

Naturally, he was also popular with workers there who loved it when he’d call by.

James Beeson, who runs Bspoke personal training on the estate, shared a video of Benji sitting on his shoulders and wrote: ‘Benji was the loveliest cat – we named him “gym cat”.

‘He would jump on people’s shoulders as they worked out – we will all miss him.’

For The Love Of Animals wrote: ‘Benji often came to our offices on Queensway, and it was always a joy to interact with him.

‘He was beautiful and gentle and so affectionate; he would snuggle in my arms and lick my face when I held him.’

The burial ground Benji used to frequent (Picture: Wessex News)

Tracey, from New Milton, said she was ‘totally devastated’ by three-year-old Benji’s death.

She said: ‘He had spent all day Monday sitting with a girl in an office on the estate.

‘Then the next morning he went out, and I got a call about 11.30am that he had been found dead.

‘I was hoping and hoping it was a mistake, but it was him.

‘My daughters are heartbroken – they adored him.’

Tracey now hopes she’ll be allowed to scatter Benji’s ashes at Hinton Park, saying ‘I think he thought he worked there.

‘It was like a second home for him. People are calling for a permanent memorial to him there, which I would love.’

Benji the bengal cat
Three is no age at all (Picture: Wessex News)

Amanda Lilley among those Benji gave comfort to when she went to visit the grave of her best friend Lizzie.

She said: ‘Lizzie absolutely loved cats.

‘I was standing at her grave and I heard this enormous purr and suddenly Benji jumped on my shoulder, then he lay down on her grave.

‘I was so happy – it was like a sign from Lizzie that everything was alright.’

Stu Grewcock said: ‘Such a wonderful cat who added a ray of sunshine when visiting my father’s grave.’

‘We buried my Papa last month,’ said Rowena Stewart, ‘and at the service he followed us everywhere.

‘When we went back to lay flowers, he even hopped in my car.

‘He was a gorgeous cat.’

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