A pet cat who has made a Sussex hospice her home has been banned from the premises.
Little Spike has been bringing comfort to many in their final hours at St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley.
However, staff say she now has to go after causing some people to have ‘severe allergic reactions’.
Spike first wandered in through the doors of the hospice more than six years ago.
Despite having a loving home of her own the caring cat has turned the building into a second sanctuary, snuggling up to patients and their families and giving them added support in their time of need.
St Catherine’s said it recognised she was a much-loved mascot but its staff and patients had to come first.
A spokesman said: “While many of us have a soft spot for our feline friends, not everyone loves cats. Recently, some of our patients have been distressed by Spike and two of our care team have had severe allergic reactions, meaning that at times they have been unable to work.
“We have to put our patients and staff first. Making sure that everyone we care for has the best experience possible when life comes full circle is why we’re here. To do that we need expert staff – without them we simply can’t help local people when they need us most.”
The decision to ban Spike from the hospice - which serves the Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex areas - has not been popular with some visitors.
Many have expressed their disappointment whilst a petition has been set up in a bid to ‘Save Spike’.
The hospice said: “We’d love to be able to continue to welcome Spike into the hospice, but as many of you know, she is a free spirit who wanders wherever she chooses.
“So while she will always be a much-loved hospice mascot, Spike is being carefully discouraged from coming into the hospice.”
The spokesman added: “We know that when someone is unwell, interacting with animals can be really beneficial. Pets as Therapy animals and individual pets will still be able to visit the hospice as we’re able to control where they go.
“Our local community is so important to us – without you and your support we can’t do what we do every day. We’ve been touched to see how many people care so much for Spike. We hope you will bear with us while we help Spike through this change in her routine and continue to support St Catherine’s while we help local people going through the very worst of times.”