New Zealand was mourning the loss of the nation’s “First Cat” yesterday after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s pet puss Paddles was run over by a car in Auckland. The prime minister’s office confirmed that the ginger and white rescue cat, also described by Ardern as the PM (Prime Moggy), died in an accident on Tuesday. “To anyone who has ever lost a pet, you’ll know how sad we feel,” the 37-year-old leader wrote on Facebook, urging people to donate to an animal rescue charity.
“Paddles was much loved, and not just by us. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts.”
Paddles proved a popular member of the prime ministerial household after Ardern won office last month, with a Twitter account set up in her name, @FirstCatofNZ, attracting more than 11,000 followers. Ardern insisted that the cat ran the account herself, saying she was “polydactyl”, with extra paws that looked like thumbs, allowing her to operate a keyboard.
She said the cat’s social media activities were “an enormous source of amusement”. US magazine Vanity Fair said the tech-savvy feline was “helping establish Ardern as the latest hip, cool world leader that America wishes it had”. Twitter users reacted with grief to the news, with some calling for a state funeral and others saying they were so upset they would have to take the day off work.
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