Paddles, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's 'First Cat', killed in car accident

New Zealand's "First Cat" Paddles - famous for its extra toes and for interrupting a phone call with US President Donald Trump - dies after being hit by a car, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's cat Paddles was killed in a car accident near her home.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's cat Paddles was killed in a car accident near her home. PHOTOS: TWITTER/@FIRSTCATOFNZ

AUCKLAND - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's cat was killed in a car accident on Tuesday (Nov 7), barely two weeks after it became a social media sensation for being named the country's first ever "First Cat".

Paddles' death was confirmed by Ms Ardern's press secretary, who told local media: "Sadly Paddles was run over by a car near the Prime Minister's home in Point Chevalier."

Ms Ardern mourned the loss of Paddles in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

"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.

The ginger and white cat - who was adopted from the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - was known for its polydactyl abnormality, which meant it had extra claws resembling thumbs.

It rose to social media fame late last month, amassing over 11,000 followers on its Twitter account.

 

Paddles belongs to Ms Ardern - who became the country's youngest prime minister in over 150 years last month - and her partner, television host Clarke Gayford.

Mr Gayford had earlier this week wrote about an incident where the cat nearly derailed Ms Ardern's phone call with US President Donald Trump.

"She leapt up onto the chair next to Jacinda and began announcing her very squawky arrival," he said.

Tributes to Paddles poured in quickly on social media, including a condolence tweet from the US Ambassador's dog Gracie Brown.

"My mom, Dad and I are very sorry to hear about @FirstCatofNZ. We will all say a prayer tonight," the tweet said.