Distraught Joseph and Jenny Hughes have been left devastated after vets admitted they had lost the ashes of their cherished cat Tabby.

The couple, of Waylands, Devizes, arranged with Macqueens, based at Hopton Industrial Estate, Devizes, to have Tabby cremated after he died in May. They had planned to bury him in their garden.

But instead of putting Tabby’s body in an individual bag to be sent off for cremation, the vet surgery put the body of Tabby into a bag containing the bodies of other cats and they were all cremated together.

Tabby was famous for being one of the fattest cats in Britain. He appeared in national newspapers and on television in 2001 when he weighed 25 lbs.

He was put to sleep by a vet at Macqueens on May 1 after being diagnosed with cancer.

A few weeks later Mr and Mrs Hughes called at the surgery to collect his ashes but was told that they were not there.

After calling the pet crematorium in Leeds where Tabby was sent Mr Hughes was told the problem was caused by Macqueens.

Mr Hughes, 52, who is a carer for his wife, who is disabled, said: “I spoke to a vet who said Tabby had been put into the wrong bag when he was sent off for cremation. It’s terrible and we can’t get over it.”

Mrs Hughes, 62, said: “Tabby was a lovely cat and I’m disgusted at Macqueens. They are supposed to be professionals.”

The couple, who have now changed vets, had Tabby from the age of five weeks until he died at the age of 16.

They have another cat, Dinky, who is three.

His obesity made national headlines in 2001 and he and Mrs Hughes were chauffeur driven to London to appear on the ITV television programme This Morning.

Mrs Hughes said: “We were in the dressing room next to Neil Sedaka and Neil was really taken with Tabby and wanted to take him home but I said he was priceless.”

Mrs Hughes said Tabby’s obesity was not due to them over feeding him but due to a medical problem.

Mr and Mrs Hughes have sought compensation from Macqueens but have been turned down by their insurers.

Macqueens have refunded the cost of the cremation and £50 and waived £121.23 from Mr and Mrs Hughes’ account.

The couple received a letter of apology from Ian Macqueen, owner of Macqueens dated June 16. In the letter he said: “Once again I would like to reiterate how sorry we are that the errors occurred over Tabby and I understand how upsetting this must be for you.

“We have instituted some new protocols to log pets that are going for cremation in the hope that we can avoid such a problem occurring again.”

Mr Macqueen told the Gazette: “What occurred was an unfortunate human error. We assume that Tabby was put into bag for mass cremation rather than a bag for individual cremation.”