Paddles named New Zealand's First Cat: Other famous 'celebrity' pets

Paddles joins the list of other famous pets owned by politicians.
Paddles joins the list of other famous pets owned by politicians.PHOTOS: FACEBOOK, REUTERS, AFP

This article was first published on Oct 27, 2017, and updated on Nov 8, 2017 to reflect the death of Paddles

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's feline friend Paddles - who was recently named First Cat of the country - died in a car accident on Tuesday (Nov 7). 

The ginger and white cat had its own Twitter account - with over 11,000 followers - in which it described itself as an "independent cat - not affurliated with the Labour Pawty".

Until its untimely death, it had been the latest addition to the ranks of "celebrity" pets owned by world politicians.

Here's a look at some of them.

Pidi (Rahul Gandhi)

Indian politician Rahul Gandhi showed off his pet dog Pidi in a playful tweet on Sunday (Oct 29), on his official Twitter account.

The vice-president of the Indian National Congress party posted a video of the canine performing a trick in which it stood on its hindlegs while balancing a treat on its nose.

With the snap of its owner's fingers, it flicked the treat into its mouth and ate it.

The tweet was from the perspective of the animal, saying it was responsible for tweeting for Mr Gandhi, and that he was "cooler" than him.

Verni, Yume and Buffy (Vladimir Putin)

A well-known dog lover, the Russian President presently owns three of them. All are gifts, with the latest being Verni - a rare Turkmen shepherd puppy from his Turkmenistan counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov earlier this month.

Yume, an Akita dog, was a present from Japan in 2012 to show gratitude for Russian assistance in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, while Buffy - a caramel and white Karakachan dog - was given to Mr Putin in 2010 during his visit to Bulgaria.


Vladimir Putin said he did not intend to scare Angela Merkel when he brought the black Labrador to a meeting with her. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Mr Putin's most famous companion, however, was Konni, a female black Labrador Retriever born in 1999. She was often seen at his side, and famously spooked German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who is afraid of dogs - during their meeting in Sochi in 2007.

Konni died in 2014.

Think Think and Ah Tsai (Tsai Ing-Wen)


Tsai Ing-Wen with her two cats, Think Think (left) and Ah Tsai. PHOTOS: TSAI ING-WEN/FACEBOOK

While Taiwan's first female president is fiercely guarded about her private life, Ms Tsai is anything but low profile when it comes to her two beloved tabby cats.

Think Think, a large grey tabby described by Ms Tsai as "fierce", was adopted in 2012 and played a starring role in her 2015 Chinese New Year video message. Ah Tsai joined the family in 2015.

Both felines made frequent appearances during her presidential campaign last year. An aide of Ms Tsai's revealed that cat-related posts on her Facebook page garner up to 50 per cent more "likes" than those on political issues.

"Since adopting Think Think and Ah Tsai, it seems like I have two more family members. Everyday when I finish a tough day and return home, the two little ones always welcome me at the door," she wrote in one post. "It always cures me of the whole day's fatigue."

Ms Tsai also adopted three retired guide dogs - Bella, Bunny and Maru - last year.

Tori (Moon Jae In)


South Korean President Moon Jae In welcomes Tori to his official Blue House residence in Seoul. PHOTOS: REUTERS

Tori, a four-year-old black mongrel from an animal shelter, was in July welcomed into the residence of the South Korean president, who made good on his campaign promise to raise awareness of abandoned animals amid a spike in pet ownership,

The pooch was promptly dubbed First Dog, in a move that was hailed by animal rights activists in the country. In the process, Mr Moon also challenged the superstition that black animals was bad luck.

Before his rescue, Tori was kept on a short leash in a deserted farmhouse and fed scraps.

He joined two other pets, a Pungsan dog called Maru and former stray cat Jjing Jing, in Mr Moon's animal-friendly household.

Leo, Kiki, Tiger and Simba (Najib Razak)

The most recent addition to the Malaysian Prime Minister's furry family was Leo, a white and orange longhair kitten which Mr Najib introduced on social media in January this year.

He also has two Persians, Kiki and her offspring Tiger, and a photogenic orange tabby named Simba.

The quartet appeared together in a light-hearted Facebook post by Mr Najib last October, in which he joked that he had left his house in the charge of the four felines while away in China.