Paddles, New Zealand's PM's 'first cat,' dies in car crash

She was one of the world’s most famous cats.

Paddles, New Zealand prime minister’s cat with opposable thumbs, became an instant celebrity after last month’s election. But the furry animal’s fame was short-lived after Paddles was hit by a car and died, officials said on Tuesday.

Paddles, dubbed by the national media as the “first cat,” was “run over by a car” near Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s home, a spokesperson said, according to Sky News. Ardern paid tribute to her beloved pet on Facebook.

“To anyone who has ever lost a pet, you'll know how sad we feel. Paddles was much loved, and not just by us. Thanks for everyone's thoughts,” she wrote. “And on behalf of Paddles, please be kind to the SPCA. They found her before we did, and we will always be grateful for that.”

The Twitter handle, @FirstCatofNZ, set up for the feline by an unknown user, also confirmed her death in a tweet: “V sad PR Guy here.Tysm for loving Paddles, the whole world will mourn her.Not bad for a lil SPCA puss. #PrrpForever”

Paddles became the “first cat” after Ardern, 37, was voted into office last month, the country’s youngest prime minister in more than 150 years. Condolences quickly flooded in for Paddles.

“RIP @FirstCatofNZ - you were a wonderful First Cat - you did NZ proud for the sadly short time you reigned.  Condolences to @jacindaardern and @NZClarke [Clarke Gayford],” one user wrote.

“RIP Paddles. My deepest sympathies to her family,” another person tweeted.

Palmerston, the British Foreign office cat, tweeted: "My deepest condolences to @jacindaardern at this difficult time. @FirstCatofNZ did more in a short time than many do over a long career."

Paddles had 11,400 Twitter followers before she died. She was part of prominent moments after last month’s election win, including interrupting a phone call between Ardern and President Trump, Gayford said.