If politics doesn’t stir your sauce, that might change after learning about the mysterious history of White House cats. The Bidens have introduced a new feline friend to the White House, and everyone wants to know more about what politics is really like.
I always assumed that presidents didn’t have time for pets. But apparently, the White House is full of cat lovers.
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The country’s first political cats
Since the beginning of our country, cats have roamed the presidential grounds. But how many of these cats were considered pets? No one can say for sure.
The first White House kittens could be nameless. Their primary role was to keep rats away from the food supply, rather than walking around as pets. Sometimes kept as pets, but documentation is lacking. That was until Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln loved cats. So much so that Mary Lincoln noted that he could keep up with a cat for at least an hour straight. All of us cat lovers can relate, right?
Lincoln had two pet cats named Dixie and Tabby. Secretary of State William Seward presented him with the two kittens, and I can only imagine Lincoln’s delight.
Many Siamese cats in the White House!
Despite being retired for rat control, the White House continues to keep feral cats as pets. Teddy Roosevelt’s cat walked around the kitchen in slippers. Herbert Hoover had a cat named Kitty (how original) who socialized in the hallways. Even Calvin Coolidge and JFK enjoyed cats.
But not all cats are as social as these kittens. Many stayed on the second and third floors where the presidential families live. A few kittens have made a big impact on our country’s history.
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In 1878, a Bangkok diplomat named Rutherford B. Hayes’ wife gave Lucy a beautiful Siamese cat. Lucy named the cat Siamese, and he lived in the White House for about a year until he fell ill and died. He was the first Siamese to enter the United States.
Siam made dramatic entrances as the first lady entertained guests. Apparently, he also liked to make dramatic exits. His body was supposed to be preserved, but the Department of Agriculture lost his body despite searching everywhere.
Now, the Hayes Presidential Library is selling plush stuffed items. Siam is okay with this.
Next came the Shan cat, the next Siamese sensation in the White House almost a century after the Siamese. Shawn belonged to Susan Ford, daughter of President Gerald Ford. He enjoyed hiding under the furniture in the Lincoln bedroom.
Shan was also bored. In 1974, Shawn was scheduled to appear in a portrait of First Lady Betty Ford, but he didn’t want to socialize that day. One of the helpers tried to pick up Shan, but he bit the helper’s finger.
The assistant required surgery for the bite, and Shaun got some bad publicity. Which do you think was worse?
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Misty malarkey yin yang
The next cat after Shan was another Siamese named Misty Malarky Ying Yang. I feel sorry for the vet who had to write her medical records.
Misty Malarky Ying Yang was the cat of Amy Carter, the daughter of President Jimmy Carter. Misty Malarkey Yin Yang was also known for her dramatic approaches.
During the Carter presidency, a state dinner was held to honor the Mexican president. The two presidents were to meet at the top of the grand staircase, drawing the attention of and press.
However, Misty Malarky Ying Yang decided that the party was for her. While the military band was playing, Misty Malarkey came down the stairs and instead of being noticed by the President, she got attention all the way.
Mays the cat
President Bill Clinton’s cat Mace was the most famous in the White House. Everyone loved socks. He was often seen outside on his leash, stealing photos and catnip from the press.
Mays has enjoyed sitting on President Clinton’s shoulders, behind the briefing podium, and the resolute desk in the Oval Office. He even had a role as Ambassador for America’s Kids, the first presidential cat to serve after retiring from a rat control role.
Hillary Clinton noted how children quickly gravitate to presidential pets. It was their first contact with the White House, and Socks made it easy to teach the kids about government.
The Clintons eventually adopted a dog named Buddy. President Clinton tried to introduce the two pets in front of the White House, but it didn’t go so well, as you’ll see here.
When he retired from the White House and the Bush family moved in, India took over the role of Cat Sock. India was a remarkable black beauty who chose to go low. The paparazzi life is not for her.
Instead, the glory shifted to the presidential dogs, Barney and Miss Beasley.
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Willow the Cat: The Current First Feline
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden have introduced their new cat, Willow, to the country.
Willow is living the true American dream. She was originally a Pennsylvania cat. Now she lives a life of luxury like no other. According to the Bidens, Willow keeps a close eye on native birds and keeps everyone in line at the White House.
Now you know how ugly the White House is. I have no doubt that Willow will take the role of pet ambassador very seriously. Hopefully, Willow will carry the torch for other cats by encouraging fellow Americans to adopt feline friends.