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I Regret To Inform You The "First Cat Of New Zealand" Has Died

Paddles, the polydactyl cat, was hit by a car.

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Paddles, the cat of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, has died after being hit by a car on Tuesday.

Paddles shot to stardom shortly after Ardern successfully negotiated a coalition government to bring Labour to power last month, following New Zealand's September election that ended in a hung parliament.

A social media account for Paddles — not run by Ardern or her partner Clarke Gayford — led to the widespread appreciation of the ginger cat, who had extra toes that gave the appearance of opposable thumbs.

Just spoke w Paddles’ Dad, @NZClarke. If you would like to remember Paddles you are most welcome and encouraged to donate to the NZ SPCA. 😽

Ardern and Gayford had adopted Paddles from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). She was found yesterday after being hit by a car near their home in Point Chevalier, Auckland.

"To anyone who has ever lost a pet, you'll know how sad we feel," Ardern wrote on Facebook.

"Paddles was much loved, and not just by us. Thanks for everyone's thoughts. And on behalf of Paddles, please be kind to the SPCA. They found her before we did, and we will always be grateful for that."

just spent all morning explaining to cat that she's not even 1 yet so how can she possibly be writing her memoirs T… https://t.co/517RdfVHxj

Earlier this week, Gayford revealed in an article for The Spinoff that Paddles had almost interrupted a phone call between Ardern and US president Donald Trump.

"As the call was transferred our cat (yes that bloody cat) came flying through the cat-flap," he wrote.

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

Since becoming prime minister, Ardern has moved quickly to implement her policy agenda.

She announced that from next year the first year of tertiary education in New Zealand would be free, and her cabinet approved a policy to increase paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks by 2020.

In a flying visit to Australia on Sunday, Ardern also reiterated New Zealand's offer to settle 150 of the refugees held in Australia's now-closed offshore detention centre on Manus Island. But prime minister Malcolm Turnbull rejected the offer, saying it could work as an incentive for people smugglers.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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