Poems of the Week

An Elegy for Paddles, the First Cat of New Zealand

by Patrick Biggs

On November 7, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s cat, Paddles, was killed by a car. A polydactyl rescue cat, Paddles once famously interrupted a phone conversation between the PM and Donald Trump by “flying through the cat-flap” and “announcing her very squawky arrival,” and she had a popular Twitter account (@FirstCatofNZ). In the aftermath of Paddles’ death, businessman Gareth Morgan sparked outrage by criticising the PM for allowing her cat to wander freely, questioning Ardern’s “conservation integrity.”

New Zealand’s in mourning, and raw lamentation
Resounds through the hills and in every bay,
For Paddles, preeminent pet of our nation,
So young and so perfect, was taken away.

She once was a stray on the streets of Ranui,
An outcast defined by opposable thumbs.
Alas for poor Paddles! Our eyes are all dewy.
Our grief is a torment that harrows and numbs.

She rose to distinction despite her beginning
(Social justice for all is what Labour’s about).
Alas for poor Paddles! Our heads are still spinning.
We’ll not love again for our hearts are in drought.

Paddles would sometimes behave as she oughtn’t—
She once interrupted a president’s call.
Alas for poor Paddles! She, too, was important,
And spoke better sense with her loud caterwaul.

A cantankerous businessman quickly went bleating
That it’s good for the birdlife that Paddles is dead.
Alas for poor Paddles! She really liked tweeting.
Alas it was not Gareth Morgan instead!

Remember, remember the Seventh November!
How desolate, dismal, and doleful a day!
Alas that poor Paddles, First Family member,
So young and so perfect, was taken away!