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BBC News Online: UK

Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK

World's oldest cat dies

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Spike the cat
The world's oldest cat has died, two months after celebrating its 31st birthday.

Spike, a ginger and white tom, died in his owner's arms at Bridport, Dorset.

The Guinness Book of Records confirmed Spike's claim to fame after owner Mo Elkington took him to an astonished vet three years ago.

The cat's life nearly ended early after a mere 19 years, when he was savaged by a dog.

Spike was first bought for two shillings and sixpence in London's Brick Lane market in 1970.

Mrs Elkington and her husband David have owned the cat since he was seven.

Mo Elkington

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She first found out Spike was a world beater on a visit to a vet after "a funny turn".

When the vet was told Spike's age, he thought he must have mis-heard.

Mrs Elkington attributed Spike's long life to the aloe vera gel she had been putting in the cat food for 10 years.

She thought an irregular heartbeat might have helped.

When Spike turned 30, Mrs Elkington put up banners and photographs on her stall at Bridport market.

Her pet still had a full set of teeth, went hunting and "ate like a horse".

Fan mail arrived from around the world - including letters addressed simply to Spike of Bridport and The Famous Cat in Dorset.

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