Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

'Thatcher dead' text sparks fears

Margaret Thatcher attends a memorial service on 11 November 2009
Not this Thatcher....

A misconstrued text message announcing the passing of a beloved pet has sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity in Canada.

Transport Minister John Baird sent a message reading: "Thatcher has died".

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was soon informed that 84-year-old former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had passed away.

But it was actually Mr Baird's beloved cat, named after his political heroine, who had died.

Alive and healthy

The confusion spread around a gala event in Toronto, where some 1,700 luminaries were gathered at a black tie event.

A tabby cat
....but a Thatcher very much like this one

Calls to puzzled officials in both 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace followed.

Embarrassed aide Dimitri Soudas had reportedly already started preparing an official statement mourning the passing of the Iron Lady.

He was told that Baroness Thatcher - who just a few days ago attended a Remembrance Day service at London's Westminster Abbey - was alive and healthy.

"If the cat wasn't dead, I'd have killed it by now," Mr Soudas is reported to have said of the 16-year-old grey tabby.

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