By- Khushi Bisht
The White House has a long tradition of having presidential pets. Most of these pets attract the public as much as their owners do. During photo sessions and public appearances, they’re usually a pleasant sight. One thing that everybody can concur on is that cats are among the best and the most loved pets when it comes to the White House.
Since the time of Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President), the presidential cats have become a source of fascination for the general populace. In this article, we will go over the history of some iconic White House cats, from Abraham Lincoln to Joe Biden’s tenure.
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President Abraham Lincoln’s Cats: Tabby & Dixie
The first president known to have brought cats inside the White House was Abe Lincoln. The President adored animals, particularly cats. He was extremely fond of cats and could spend hours playing with them. When asked if her husband had a hobby, Mrs. Lincoln reportedly answered “cats.”
Susan Ford, daughter of US President Gerald Ford, with Shan, the Ford family’s Siamese cat. Wikimedia Commons
Lincoln had two cats named Tabby and Dixie, which were given to him by William Seward (United States Secretary of State) as a present. He adored cats of all kinds and even welcomed a few stray kittens into the White House with him. Once he was even seen feeding Tabby with a gold fork during a formal dining event at the White House.
Lincoln once saved three cats from a Civil War battleground during a severe cold season. He slipped them under his overcoat and returned to the White House, where he kept them until they got a loving home.
President Rutherford B. Hayes’ Cat: Siam
Siam was the first female Siamese cat to arrive in the White house. She was gifted to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879 by David B. Sickels (an American diplomat). She was initially transported to Hong Kong, then to San Francisco, and finally, to Washington, D.C.
Amy Carter with her cat, Misty Malarky Yin Yang. Wikimedia Commons
Mrs. Hayes named the cat Miss Pussy initially, but after seeing her imperial demeanor, she changed her name to Siam. She was beautiful and fluffy with sparkling blue eyes and caused a sensation at the White House. Siam, on the other hand, took ill some months after settling in the capital of the country. President’s personal doctor was called to inspect the cat but her condition didn’t improve.
President Theodore Roosevelt’s Cat: Tom Quartz & Slippers
Roosevelt had a slew of pets during his stay in the White House. He and his family cherished the presence of pets in their lives. President Roosevelt had two cats in the White House named Tom Quartz and Slippers.
Slippers, his six-toed cat, stood out among his other pets. He was a bluish-grey tabby cat that was famous for having extra toes on his feet. Slippers lived in opulence and on several occasions. Roosevelt permitted Slippers to join official White House dinners with him and his guests.
Cat Wearing a Ford’s My Man Sign at a Campaign Rally for President Gerald R. Ford. Wikimedia Commons
President Calvin Coolidge’s Cats: Bounder, Mud, Tiger, & Blacky
The Coolidges had a lot of cats in the White house. Every cat has its own peculiarities and Coolidge adored each and every one of the kitties’ idiosyncrasies. One day when Tiger suddenly disappeared, Coolidge is claimed to have aired a radio statement alerting the people to keep an eye out. The radio broadcast was successful, and Tiger was safely restored to the White House. He also had a bobcat named Smoky Bob.
They also had dogs, bears, a wallaby, a hippo, lion cubs, and a raccoon in addition to cats.
President Gerald Ford’s Cat: Shan
The fords had a seal-point Siamese cat named Shan. Basically, Susan Ford (President’s daughter) was the owner of Shan, which President and Mrs. Ford gave her as an Easter gift in 1973. Susan Ford once told that Shan liked females over males but the cat, on the other hand, liked the president and sat in his lap when the occasion arose. Shan came to the White House with the Fords after living with them in their Arlington, Virginia residence.
Bill Clinton’s Cat Socks at the podium in the White House Press Briefing Room. Wikimedia Commons
President Jimmy Carter’s Cat: Misty Malarky Ying Yang
Misty Malarky Ying Yang was a Siamese cat and she holds the title of having one of the most distinctive cat names ever. This adorable Siamese cat belonged to Amy Carter, President Jimmy Carter’s only daughter. Misty has been classified as lively, energetic, and smart and she would often sit by and meow during Amy’s violin lessons. Misty stayed with the Carters at the White House until President Carter’s tenure was over.
President Bill Clinton’s Cat: Socks
In 1993, Socks moved into the White House with the Clintons and was the most renowned cat resident of the White House. He was so well-known that he was the subject of a book and a song. He was a socialite who was frequently led outdoors on a leash for walks. Socks lived until he was 18 or 20 years old, and he died in 2009.
Mrs. Laura Bush holds India, the First Kitty, during a 2004 taping of Barney Cam at the White House. Wikimedia Commons
President George W. Bush’s Cat: India “Willie” Bush
India “Willie” Bush moved into the White House during President Bush’s presidency. India was an all-black cat who was bought at the Bush children’s request. According to the White House website, the library was India’s favorite place in the White House. India died on January 4, 2009, at the age of 18, inside the White House, when the Bushes moved out to make way for the Obamas.
The current First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, has stated that the Bidens will be welcoming a cat to the White House in the near term.