Caturday felid trifecta: Paddles: New Zealand’s First Cat; cats doing martial arts; cats on a treadmill—and Maru lagniappe

New Zealand’s new prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is only 37: the youngest female leader of any country. She’s also head of the Labour Party, and, most important, has a polydactyl cat called Paddles (what a great name!). Paddles, New Zealand’s First Cat, has her own Twitter account (see below), and has already tweeted 720 times. (Check out the photo of Paddles using her thumbs at the top of her Twitter site.)

Here’s Paddles’s Twitter description (note the political affiliation):

I can’t count all those front toes, but it looks as if there’s more than one extra on each paw. Readers? (The condition, by the way, is due to a single dominant allele; such cats are also known as “super scratchers”.)

Ardern after she became PM, with her beloved cat:

When Paddles became First Cat, he was congratulated by Larry, Britain’s Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, (the equivalent to Britain’s First Cat) who lives at 10 Downing Street:


Petapixel has some lovely photos of cats doing martial arts. The photographer:

Hiroyuki Hisakata is a Japanese photographer who has focused his career on a rather unusual subject matter: action photos of cats that make them look like they’re doing martial arts. Each of the pictures freezes leaping cats in time and makes them look like they’re practicing fighting techniques and sparring with other cats.

You can find more of Hiroyuki’s work on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Hiroyuki has also published two photo books of his work.

Here are a couple of my favorites:


Who needs snakes on a plane when you can have cats on a treadmill? This is a great way for an indoor cat to get exercise, but how many cats could you get to actually do this?


And lagniappe for your enjoyment, Maru kneads bread while apparently holding a straw in his mouth. The cat is demented, I tell you.

h/t: Snowy Owl, Michael, Blue


  1. Posted October 28, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    That Prime Minister and cat look so informal and relaxed compared to the madness that always surrounds an American president. And those tweets are so nice compared to The Other Orange One’s tweets. What’s wrong with the US? How did we fall this low?

    • BJ
      Posted October 28, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Regarding your first sentence: most larger countries don’t have informal, relaxed elections for their highest office, and it’s rather absurd to expect that kind of treatment. New Zealand has a little less than 4.7 million people total. The Mayor of New York City represents more about double the number of people that live in NZ. Then there’s the amount of power the leader of the US wields on the world stage. Even if you look at such elections in other more powerful nations, they’re much closer to the US than to NZ. The big difference is how long candidates campaign in the US, which is a big problem.

      • Posted October 28, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        I think the kind of power the US wields is the problem, not the number of people. Canada’s leaders seem almost as relaxed as New Zealand’s.

        • BJ
          Posted October 28, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          There’s certainly also the culture factor — the media and how it operates, in particular. It’s just my impression, but the US seems like the clickbait originator and capital of the world, and this extends from the internet to the 24-hour cable news cycle, where content is constantly required and silly discussions about every little thing that happens in national politics must be discussed, dissected, and heightened beyond reason for as long as possible, lest they lose their viewers’ interest.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 28, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          @Lou Jost

          The NZ political scene may seem idyllic compared to the USA, but it’s fundamentally no different.

          NZ politicians are bought & paid for before they park their arses in the big house, in exactly the same way as in the US. NZ is a place where all the power-families & power-brokers have known each other for generations. Same schools & intertwined via marriage & greed. Etc.

          NZ is large geographically, but in human, social terms it’s a little village where all the families [that matter] know each other – it’s like Iceland in that regard, or the Republic of Ireland [my patch] where everyone knows who is who by osmosis. In a place as tight-knit as NZ deals are done & feck the ballot box!

          Also NZ has hit the iceberg of ‘post truth’ just as hard as Europe.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            I have to flatly disagree with you there.

            At the moment the New Zealand political scene is operating pretty much as normal. The US political scene has gone toxic. That’s the yuuge difference.

            Also, the NZ political scene is low-key and we like it that way. If the Prime Minister visits some rural school in the middle of nowhere all the kids line up for a shot of them with the PM for the TV cameras – but that’s it. A one-day wonder locally, but no big deal. Our last Labour Prime Minister, Helen Clark, used to quietly disappear from the news for a few days at a time – she was taking some time off climbing mountains. Can you imagine any US President doing that without a cloud of press choppers buzzing round him?

            In fact we don’t have a President or elections for one. Jacinda Ardern is simply the leader of the largest party in the Labour/Greens/New Zealand First coalition.
            Our retiring Prime Minister, Bill English, succeeded to the job as leader of the National Party and hence Prime Minister when the previous leader, John Key, stepped down. The PM is merely ‘first among equals’ although, sometimes, some are more equal than others.

            This is probably why some of the hype and intensity surrounding US Presidential doings is absent here.

            Oh, and there’s hardly any emphasis on religion. It crops up when e.g. euthanasia is discussed, but rarely otherwise. Voters are far more concerned about tax, health and education policies. Helen Clark and John Key were pretty much atheists, though they never emphasised it. Bill English was a Catholic, again, nobody made anything of it. Jacinda Ardern – I have no idea if she has any religion, again if she has nobody makes a point of it. (Oh, she was raised Mormon but left in 2005 due to her support of gay rights. She has recently said she’s an agnostic. Well, well. I had to Google for that).


            • Mike
              Posted October 29, 2017 at 6:09 am | Permalink

              I believe she affirmed taking the oath of office.

  2. Posted October 28, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Felid martial artists…genius!!!

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Maru treats that bread the same way Emily, our cat treats me. Nice but sometimes painful.

  4. BJ
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Clearly NZ was voting for the cat, not the person. Jacinda was an ancillary concern.

    Those photos is amazing. The first one appears to be a Kung Fu cat.

    The second is interpretive dance.

    Third is ballet.

    Fourth is “ey, get outta here, you git.”

  5. claudia baker
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    And Arden was sworn in with NO bible and NO mention of a god. Awesome N.Z.!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 28, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Well, the National Anthem is still ‘God Defend New Zealand’ (if I was the New Zealand Defence Force I’d feel a little hurt by the implications of that), but it’s rarely played.

      Three of our last four Prime Ministers have been atheists/agnostics – Helen Clark, John Key and now Jacinda Ardern. Bill English was/is a Catholic.

      Nobody made anything out of that.


  6. claudia baker
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Typo: Ardern

  7. Blue mAAs
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Mz Paddles, the felid, is a female one.
    Mz Paddles’ twitter profile:

    Paddles Ardern – Gayford. She/her. First Cat of New Zealand. Have thumbs, will tweet. Not affurliated with Labour Pawty. Bullies will be SCRATSCHED / blocked. 😽

    Auckland, New Zealand
    Joined October 2017

    Same as, now .and once yet again., the heads of all of the three branches of the federal government of New Zealand.,_2017


  8. BJ
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I have a new question for our Director of the WEIT New Zealand Studies Program (you know who you are): what is a campaign for Prime Minister like in New Zealand? Do the candidates have to go around the country and have tea with ever person of voting age? Or perhaps they just have a few debates where everyone packs into a single auditorium? Do the sheep get to vote?

    But seriously, I’m curious about how long it lasts, what the media coverage is like, debates, etc. It seems so different from other countries, which I imagine is because of the nation’s small size in both area and population.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 28, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      “Do the candidates have to go around the country and have tea with ever person of voting age?”

      Well, pretty much. 😉

      We don’t have a President, so it isn’t Presidential election, though there is obviously a focus on the leaders of the major parties. The parties choose their party leaders. The leader of the largest party (or coalition) is almost automatically Prime Minister. We elect *parties*, not Prime Ministers. And it is possible – and has happened – for a serving Prime Minister to step down and be replaced by another politician from the same party, either by mutual agreement (as happened when John Key retired last year and was replaced by Bill English) or by party coup d’etat (though this more often happens to party leaders in opposition, successful parties don’t feel the need to rock the boat).

      But ALSO, we have MMP – proportional representation. This makes a BIG difference in that First-Past-the-Post (as e.g. the US or UK has) tends to freeze out minor parties and you end up with a two-party system. Proportional representation facilitates the existence of third parties because – if they get say 10% of the vote they get 10% of the seats. 10% of the vote in a FPP election would get them nothing.

      The upshot of this is that – this election – we had the National Party on the right, and Labour and the Greens on the left (and it was clearly understood that they would go with each other) – and New Zealand First campaigning for the middle ground. Winston Peters, leader of NZ First, is a wily old politician who’s been around for ever. NZ First has a minor but pretty solid support base, it always seemed possible that he would hold the ‘balance of power’ – which in fact he did. They eventually decided to go with Labour-Greens, probably because they had more policy in common with them than with National.

      (I always think ‘NZ First’ sounds horribly like one of those right-wing ultra-nationalist fascist parties, but in practice they’re pretty middle-of-the-road. And when I say ‘right’ and ‘left’ it should be understood that the New Zealand ‘right’ is still to the left of the US Democrats).

      Election hoardings can go up two months ahead, official campaigning starts one month ahead. Obviously the sensationalist TV ‘news’ industry with their polls and their pundits starts up well ahead of that.

      There were (from memory) two televised leader’s debates with Bill English and Jacinda Ardern (i.e. the parties with most seats), and one or two for the leaders of the minor parties.

      Some polling places opened for ‘advance voting’ a week before election day, which many find convenient, though the votes aren’t counted till election day. The emphasis is still on Election Day though. On that day, all the hoardings have to come down, and no electioneering is permitted. (Disclosure: I spent a couple of days sitting in an office manning phones for the Labour Party – first time I’ve done that – essentially phoning voters who we thought were likely to vote ‘on the left’. On election day itself, we were allowed (by law) to ask people if they’d voted, to encourage them to vote, and to offer to help with transport to a polling place, but NOT to ask them how they’d voted or tell them who to vote for.)

      What was unusual this election was that there was no clear winner on the night – usually (even with MMP) it becomes clear by the end of the evening who’s going to win. This time it was all down to which side New Zealand First would decide to go with. I don’t have a problem with that – since neither side (National or Labour/Greens) had a clear majority, neither can claim they were robbed. This in contrast to some FPP elections in the past where (due to quirks of voting distribution) the winning party got less votes than the losers.

      I think that’s enough for now…


    • Posted October 29, 2017 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      No, sheep don’t get to vote but their carers have a bit of power and i don’t mean sheep dogs… just to be clear.
      But i can see you clearly see us as country hicks. Some of us are to be sure and that’s alright, in part, my roots.
      Well, BJ when the US elects a women as President, religion is of no consequence to holding power, has had gays, transgenders as elected members and we do have a high uptake of digital technology, innovative (tyranny of distance?) tell the power that is the US not to send nuclear ships or arms to our shores (this came at a cost) but is what we wanted… we don’t shoot a lot of our citizens for silly reasons, get back to us.
      If i sound slightly miffed it is because I am,
      but i’ll get over it. We are not perfect (far from it) but we are so called first world for what that is worth.
      By the way, we are friendly to Americans even though the Queen is still our symbolic head and the Governor General (Queens rep) signs off our laws. Mutiny if s/he didn’t.
      Our politicians do seem more accessible and the system is not over media hyped and twisted with dollar power. Also we tend to damage property than shoot at our politicians, so far. Corrupt practices get outed which as you have cottoned onto perhaps is, to do with size and exposure (you are easily recognized by face or by name) tax payers money to watch porn, double dipping on accommodation allowances, cases in point.
      Never and not the whole story of course but… Ok going back to my whittling.

      • Blue
        Posted October 29, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        And a very lovely, laingholm, … … “whittled” avatar it is, too !
        that of

        Thank YOU for these observations /
        this analysis !


        • Posted October 29, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          Hello Blue, the avatar was a painting by my late father- in- law, he did several that i am really fond of. My long suffering partner also paints,
          our house is her art gallery (lol) . My political observations are pretty general and Wikipedia would give a more in- depth look, mine is a ‘top of the head, from the street’ sort of view.

  9. Charles Minus
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I think that’s a pillow shaped like a bread loaf (it appears to have a label attached). However, there is no sane explanation for the straw in mouth.

  10. nicky
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    When I saw “NZ’s ‘first cat’ “, I thought it would be a historical kind of thing, how cats became are a threat to the indigenous fauna, a pest….
    Must say I’m kind of disappointed, although Paddles appears absolutely adorable.

  11. tubby
    Posted October 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I think I need a bread-pillow like that for Orson to knead. He gets pretty forceful, and a cheap pillow is a better target than me. Amazon also lists bread-style keyboard wrist rests which are pretty adorable.

  12. Posted October 28, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    The ginger kittehs are surely performing a paw de deux.

  13. Posted October 28, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    My professor used Maru as a non-human animal example yesterday. Interesting coincidence.

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