US Presidential Cats: 10 Cats Who Lived In The White House


Pets, especially cats and dogs, have long kept the United States Presidents' company. Like many Presidential Dogs, Presidential Cats did not only witness history in the making, they were part of it! Speaking of history, 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is known to be the first president to keep cats as pets. Lincoln had two cats named Tabby and Dixie. However, historians believe that Lincoln's cats weren't the first to pad through the White House.

According to a historian, Andrew Hager, at the Presidential Pet Museum, a few cats who were likely nameless were probably on the grounds beforehand. Hager said these nameless cats were put in the White House to deal with rodent problems in food storage areas, which was the common way for people to take care of the problem in those days. That said, I have compiled a list of the top ten cats who had been unelected residents in the White House.

1. Tabby and Dixie, Abraham Lincoln's Pet Cats

Tabby and Dixie, Abraham Lincoln's Cats

Tabby and Dixie are known to be the first US Presidential cats owned by Abraham Lincoln, US 16th President. Lincoln was given the two cats as gifts by Secretary of State William Seward. The cats apparently warmed the president's heart to the point that he had to call Dixie the "Smartest of his Whole Cabinet," and feed Tabby during a formal dinner at the White House. In addition to Tabby and Dixie, Lincoln was known to bring a few stray cats into the White House, according to the PPM.

2. Siam – The First Siamese Cat in America

Siam – The First Siamese Cat in America
   A Siamese cat

Siam was a female Presidential Cat kept in the White House by 19th U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy. The cat, which is believed to be the first Siamese cat breed to reach the US, was given to First Lady Lucy as a gift from David B. Sickels, an American consul in Bangkok in 1879. According to the PPM, Siam was a long-legged, elegant and slender cat who created quite a stir in the White House. Unfortunately, Siam died after suffering from a months-long illness.

3. Puffins, Woodrow Wilson’s Pet Cat

Puffins, Woodrow Wilson’s Cat

While residing in the White House, 28th U.S. President Woodrow Wilson enjoyed the company of his pet cat named Puffins. In addition to Puffins, the President owned several pets in his lifetime including a ram, some sheep, and two dogs.

4. Smoky, Calvin Coolidge’s Pet Cat

Smoky, Calvin Coolidge’s Pet Cat
    A Bobcat 

During their time in the White House, 30th U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace owned an incredible assortment of traditional pets including, cats, dogs, and birds. One such pet was Smoky, a bobcat the Great Smoky Mountains Association gave as a gift to the Coolidges. Smoky's activities at the White House are lost to history, plus he received remarkably little press.

5. Tom Kitten, JFK’s Pet Cat

Tom Kitten, JFK’s Pet Cat

Tom Kitten, also known as “Tom Terrific,” was the first pet at the Kennedy White House. The cat belonged to Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter. An interesting fact about Tom is that he seldom stayed at the White House. Despite his love for pets, JFK had allergies and it seems that Tom’s presence made the president sneeze. As a result, The President had Tom moved out of the White House to go live with Mary Gallagher, a White House staffer. Whenever JFK was away, Gallagher would sometimes bring Tom to work at the White House so Caroline could see her furry friend. Sadly on Aug. 21, 1962, Tom passed at a very young age. His cause of death remains unknown.

6. Shan, Gerald Ford's Pet Cat

Shan, Gerald Ford's Pet Cat

Shan was a Siamese cat 38th U.S. President Gerald Ford gave as an Easter gift to his daughter Susan in 1973. The cat moved into the White House when Ford took office as president in 1974. One interesting fact about Shan is that she did not like being left behind. For instance, after being left behind, Shan attacked both first lady Betty and her daughter Susan when they returned from a skiing trip to Vail, Colorado. The cat reportedly bit the first lady and her daughter on their legs after wailing miserably while they were gone.

7. Misty Malarky Ying Yang, Amy Carter's Pet Cat

Misty Malarky Ying Yang, Amy Carter's Pet Cat

Misty Malarky Ying Yang was a lovable Siamese cat that belonged to President Jimmy Carter's only daughter, Amy Lynn Carter. Misty lived in the White House, and enjoyed steak and seafood, with the Carters until the end of President Carter’s term. Misty was the last feline companion to reside in the White House until President Clinton moved in with his pet cat named Socks.

8. Socks, Bill Clinton's Pet Cat

Socks, Bill Clinton's Pet Cat

Socks Clinton the cat lived in the White House with the Clintons during their presidency. After Clinton's term ended, former Clinton secretary Betty Currie took Socks to reside with her. In February 2009, Socks was euthanized after suffering from cancer of the jaw for several months in Hollywood, Maryland.

9. India "Willie," George W. Bush's Pet Cat

India "Willie," George W. Bush's Pet Cat

India "Willie" Bush was an all-black, female American Shorthair cat owned by 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura. In early 2001, India moved into the White House with the Bushes from Austin, Texas after the President's inauguration. When the cat's name hit the media, some citizens of the nation of India were upset. In July 2004, some Indian demonstrators burned an effigy of George W. Bush as they condemned the cat's name as an insult to their country.

However, President Bush did not respond to the demonstration and did not change the cat's name. According to reports, Bush's daughter Barbara named the cat after Texas Rangers player, RubĂ©n Sierra, whose nickname was "El Indio." Unfortunately, India passed away at the age of eighteen at the White House on January 4, 2009. India was the last cat to live in the White House until President Joe Biden moved in with Willow.

10. Willow, Joe Biden's Pet Cat

Willow, Joe Biden's Pet Cat

First Lady Jill Biden adopted Willow, a tabby domestic short-haired cat, from Rick Telesz, a farmer in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Jill Biden named the cat after her hometown of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Willow Biden has many privileges as a Presidential Cat, including traveling in the presidential helicopter, and spending the weekends with the First Family, in Rehoboth, Wilmington, and Camp David, according to CNN.

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