In coastal Welllington, an elegant rescue cat makes her beachy house a home.
There was never any question Deborah Ashton would end up working with animals. After volunteering at animal shelters and serving on the board of the SPCA, Deborah now leads Save Animals from Exploitation (SAFE).
“I grew up with cats, and back then desexing wasn’t a thing, so I always joke that I was raised by cats!” she says.
Deborah and her company director husband Joe share their beachside Wellington property with cats Elsa (pictured) and Tom, Gary the pigeon, two doves and four chickens. “Tom is a stray who turned up starving and bedraggled, while Elsa came from the Upper Hutt Animal Rescue Society. My cat Squeaky had died, so I was looking for another.”
Elsa had been in the centre for months. “I didn’t choose her – she followed me around, so I had to take her home.”
They’ve nicknamed her “The Model”, given her “beautiful bone structure and glossy coat”. Sometimes she lives up to her nickname by behaving like a diva. “Elsa will hiss at Tom if he looks at her the wrong way, and we occasionally have to break up a fight between them.”
But Deborah says her home would feel too sterile without cats. “For me, cats make a home. They bring their own personalities and add life to a home.”
When they’re not playing cat whisperer, the couple are renovating the house they bought 20 years ago, to better reflect its coastal location. “My style is very Cape Cod/beachy, so we’ve gone for soft blue-greys. I also love colour so have added Designers Guild cushions and accent wallpaper.”
They often talk about moving someplace warmer, but they love their proximity to the sea and all-day sun – the ideal haven for their growing menagerie.