A GRIEF-STRICKEN pet lover took his own life just days after his elderly cat died in his arms.

Bournemouth Coroner’s Court heard how heartbroken Michael McAleese, 44, had posted a moving YouTube video tribute to 13-year-old tabby Sophie, five days after she passed away from a stroke, saying: “This is in her memory. She was such a wonderful little cat.

“This is a montage tribute to my beloved Sophie cat. I loved her so much and still do.”

Eight days later Mr McAleese’s body was found at his lodgings in Hillcrest Road, Parkstone, Poole. He had taken a drugs cocktail including Secobarbital, which is no longer prescribed by the NHS.

But pathologist Dr Sherie Haider said toxicology tests had shown that the level of the ‘dangerous’ sedative had been within the therapeutic range and she was unable to ascertain the cause of Mr McAleese’s death.

His landlady Adriana van Dijk told the court how she gave him Sophie because he had grown so attached to her.

“As soon as Michael saw Sophie he seemed to fall in love with her. I was away a lot so he looked after her. She had the sweetest nature and they totally clicked. She was like a child to him.

“He was devastated when she died and phoned me in the middle of the night. He slept with her for three days until he couldn’t stand the smell any longer.

“I tried to persuade him life was more than a cat, but in his case it wasn’t.”

In a statement, coroner’s officer David Tong said a book had been found be-side Mr McAleese’s body with instructions on how to commit suicide, and several notes were also discovered. He added: “The flat was very tidy; it looked like everything was prepared for his death.”

Mr McAleese’s sister Juliet Willmore said he had been devastated by the death of their mother.

They had lost contact for many years but he had once phoned to say: “I want you to have this cat; you are the only one I trust to look after her.”

Mrs Willmore added: “He even told the man who came to cremate the cat that he was going to kill himself.”

Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict Mr McAleese took his own life.