Paddles, First Cat of New Zealand and PM Ardern’s cat, dies

By @chelean on
Paddles, the First Cat of New Zealand and new Prime Minister Jacinda Arden's pet, was hit by a car in Auckland on Tuesday. paddlesgram/Instagram

Paddles, lovingly dubbed the First Cat of New Zealand, has died. NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Wednesday that her female ginger and white cat had died after being run over by a car near her Point Chevalier home on Tuesday.

“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. And so on behalf of Paddles, please be kind to the SPCA. They found her before we did, and we will always be grateful for that,” Ardern wrote on Instagram, referring to the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where they adopted the cat from.

Paddles was hit by a car and killed on Tuesday near Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford’s home. Gayford, who is a television presenter, said the loss of their feline companion left a void in their hearts. He also encouraged well-wishers to donate to SPCA.

The double-thumbed feline was a rising social media star who had her own Instagram and Twitter account. Her fame shot up when her mum, Ardern, won the election last month. Her Twitter account, run by an anonymous person who described himself as Paddles’ PR guy, said she was proud of her “thumbs” and that she’s “not affurliated with the Labour Pawty.”

Well wishes have poured in for the beloved cat, with Gracie Brown, US Ambassador to NZ Scott Brown’s Yorkshire Terrier, leading the tributes.