Paddles is dead

The one year old polydactylous cat Paddles—staffed by recently elected New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford—is dead. She was hit by a car.  Paddles had recently assumed her status as First Cat of New Zealand, and had a Twitter account that was hilarious.  In fact, Paddles was the only creature on Twitter I followed.

I don’t like Twitter fights, and I don’t have time to follow people on that site (most tweets I get from readers), but every day I looked forward to reading what Paddles had to say. She (or her amanuensis) was funny and sassy. She was an atheist, too, once tweeting this after getting a picture of a cat reading The Dog Delusion:

Look at those toes!

From Newshub:

That account has since expressed condolences for the loss, saying “the whole world will mourn her”.

The polydactyl feline belonged to Ms Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford.

The admin behind the account says they have been in touch with Mr Gayford about how mourners can help – and now encourages anyone who “who would like to remember Paddles” to donate to the SPCA.

Paddles herself was adopted from the animal rescue charity.

The cat was by Ms Ardern’s side for many of her pivotal political moments, including interrupting her phone call with US President Donald Trump.

She leapt up onto the chair next to Jacinda and began announcing her very squawky arrival,” Mr Gayford told The Spinoff.

“There was a flurry of action as I tried to hustle it into the next room while quite literally the leader of the free world was connected through to our little home in Pt Chev.”

Paddles’ Twitter bio said she was an “Independent cat- not affurliated with the Labour pawty”.

The cat had strong international relations, and had been officially greeted by ‘Diplo Dog’ Gracie Brown, who is US Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown’s dog.

Hundreds of tributes are pouring in for Paddles on social media.

The Twitter account for Ms Brown’s dog Gracie says she is “very sorry to hear” the news.

“We will all say a prayer tonight.” [JAC: Paddles was an atheist; see above.]

The Twitter account for the cat says it is inquiring how people can send cards to the Prime Minister and her partner.

Paddles will be missed.

Indeed. Paddles was only one year old, Ardern only 37. I was looking forward to years of pleasure reading Paddles’s tweets and following the exploits of her and her lively young staff. I’m very sad, but I’m sure that her staff is far more devastated.

RIP Paddles.


  1. Ed Collins
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Try following Larry from 10 Downing St. Very hep cat !

  2. nicky
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I lost my last cat, not even a year old to the huskies of the neighbors.
    He was such an extraordinary cat. He imposed himself on us, smuggled himself first into the sleeping bag (my wife tossed him out) and later by clandestinely hiding in the car, being discovered only about a hundred km’s on the way. Very affectionate and strong-willed, he conquered the heart of my wife, who was not exactly an ailurophile. He hadn’t even got a name yet. And now my wife died too.
    Paddles’ death re-opens all the floodgates one wants to keep closed.
    It is so sad, death comes so easily, horrible.

    • Posted November 7, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear, I’m SO sorry for what happened to your wife and your cat, and also for reviving those sad thoughts. Best to you.

      • nicky
        Posted November 7, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Thank you

        • nicky
          Posted November 7, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          I’m literally crying again, could keep it in for nearly four months, but now…

          • Posted November 8, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

            Let it out mate – it’s good for you. I’ve been there. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy.

    • BJ
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. I hope things get better for you. The pain never leaves your life entirely, but it does fade into the background. The easiest way for it to fade is to find happiness that can drown out that ever-present drone of the pain.

      Perhaps the affection of another cat can bring that love and happiness into your life. Adult cats can be especially appreciative and affectionate when you save them from a shelter.

      If you do decide to adopt again, just ask your helpful local shelter workers which cats would best suit your needs. As a former volunteer myself, I can tell you that you needn’t be afraid to tell them your situation, both circumstantially and emotionally, so they can best help you find your friend/s. Who knows, maybe even two or three lovely cats will bring twice or thrice the love and light into you life 🙂

      • nicky
        Posted November 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        Thank you too.
        I have two young children now (7 and 3) , maybe a cat would help them with the loss of their mom indeed.
        I vowed never to serve a cat again after the unnamed one died, but I have second thoughts now.

        • Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          I said the same thing after I lost a beloved cat I had for 15 years, but of course a stray wandered in through the cat door and needed a home. . .

        • darrelle
          Posted November 8, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

          I don’t really know what to say Nicky, but I wanted to say something to let you know that there is yet another human being out there that empathizes strongly with you. And wishes that there were some way to help alleviate the pain and sense of loss that you and your children are surely experiencing. Take care of yourselves and each other.

    • nicky
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      and death not just comes so easily, it comes so unjustly, so unfairly. one of the best men I ever knew, and a good friend, died of a brain tumour a few years ago not yet 40. why he? He was a help to children, an inspiration to all around him, a maker of ‘events’ one would remember for the rest of one’s life, and then it was he who had to get that brain cancer, Life is kind of horrible. My wife too, she was only 27! I know, it is how it is, no malice, but still it is so unfair.

      • Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Heartfelt condolences on all your private sorrows, Nicky. So very sad.

      • Laurance
        Posted November 7, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Oh Nicky, I’m so sorry to hear your sad news! It’s so distressing when death comes to a young adult in the prime of life. And it’s such a loss for your children, too.

        Eventually, when you are ready, there will be a shelter cat who will soothe your heart. (I know from experience, because I recently adopted two senior shelter cats, and they bring me such joy. I hope you and your children will find comfort.)

      • Gayle Ferguson
        Posted November 7, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. My best friend from high school died from colon cancer this year, just a month before her 40th birthday. She’d been super fit and active – a running and ‘body pump’ addict – and a healthy eater all her life. Just so random and unfair.

      • somer
        Posted November 8, 2017 at 12:11 am | Permalink

        If so sorry to hear of your loss

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 8, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        If you’re going through hell, keep going
        ~ Winston Churchill

        PAX nicky

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:24 am | Permalink

        Oh, Nicky, I’m so sorry to hear this! I’m crying, too. Agree, “life is kind of horrible,” “so unjust,” and “so unfair.” You and your children have more on your plate than most people could bear. My heart goes out to you and I only wish there were something I could do to help.

        Also, what a horrific way to lose a cat. IMO, d*gs that kill cats (and other things, for that matter) should never be allowed to run free. Sounds like he was a very special cat–love the way he chose your family and wouldn’t take no for an answer. 🙂

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      I’m so sorry Nicky. I’m thinking of you.

  3. Heather Hastie
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    This is so sad. Paddles was wonderful, and I will miss her.

    Our Ministry for women recently put out a tweet pointing out that for the first time since 2006, women had all the three top jobs in NZ – prime minister, chief justice, and governor-general. Paddles pointed out that the first cat was female too, and the tweet should read top FOUR jobs.

  4. Posted November 7, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    That is so very sad. I worry for our cats every day, mostly from the local coyotes as we live on an almost dead-end street so cars are not so much of a threat. We keep the cats in at night when the coyotes roam more freely but they are around during the day too.

  5. BJ
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    This is such sad news! Paddles was such a cutie. I’m surprised something like this could happen with such a prominent cat. I don’t know what the NX equivalent of the White House is, but I would have thought the grounds would be big enough for Paddles to roam without fear of automotive dangers. Not that I’m blaming the owner. Some cats are outdoor cats (my first two were), and once they are, you can’t change that.

    Amazingly, my first cat would travel miles away from the house. Very occasionally, he would go out for two days at a time. He was never injured by cars, coyotes, or similar. Man did that cunt love to hunt…I sure do miss him, and I miss his “sister” as well…

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      The First Cat was at the Ardern’s modest brick & tile Point Chevalier home, not the official residence, which is the larger, but not huge, Premier House.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      I don’t know what the NX equivalent of the White House is, but I would have thought the grounds would be big enough for Paddles to roam without fear of automotive dangers

      Even if there were large grounds etc, there are hazards to trying to relocate a cat which has established it’s own territory at (where ever) . Particularly for a volatile position such as in politics, where you could have to change address at short notice. Probably the right thing to do was to keep the cat at it’s established home,regardless of the particular circumstances of this event.

  6. Laurance
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh, this is awful!!! I absolutely HATE to hear of a cat getting killed!

    I had outdoor cats all my life and only switched to indoors when I moved back to Pennsylvania (after being hijacked to a village near Ithaca NY and living there 16 years) and could no longer afford my old neighborhood in State College (next to Penn State).

    I settled in Bellefonte, ten miles north, on the main drag into our Tiny Town. Sorry ’bout that! Indoor cats now! With all that screamin’ traffic going by, not safe for pussy cats!

  7. rickflick
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear the sad news. The loss of a beloved pet can be quite a jolt. The household becomes suddenly quieter. The routine is broken, and it take a while to establish a new normal. Best wishes from NY.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Especially if the pet is killed by a car (no way to prepare). I’ve been lucky that all my beloved pets died of old-age related diseases. It is still a jolt and throws a dark cloud over life for a while, but I can’t imagine the jolt of an unexpected death like this.

  8. Posted November 7, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Sad day. I was so looking forward to years of Paddles. Find the nearest felid and give it a hug (if it will let you 🐾). Cats, like life, are precious.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Well, that’s a real shame. Sorry New Zealand.

  10. Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    It makes me very sad. I’m sorry that Paddles is lost to all of us.

  11. Grania Devine
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    So much pain in the world, so many things to cry about, but this really hit me. Life is really shitty sometimes.

  12. Posted November 7, 2017 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Very sad to hear this. I know it’s just heartbreaking.

  13. somer
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Poor little kitty, how devastating for the staff – this is really sad news about a lovely, and very young cat.

  14. ChrisH
    Posted November 8, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink


  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 8, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Very sad.

    And Paddles was a Westie (found in Ranui) which endears her to me.

    As Jacinda suggested (and in reaction to Gareth Morgan who has the sense of decorum of Donald Trump) I’ve just made a donation to the SPCA in her memory.


  16. Liz
    Posted November 8, 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, Jerry.

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