Hail to the Cats! A Salute to First Felines
Socks, one of the most recent "First Felines," greets the press. (Photo by Barbara Kinney/The White House)
Many of America’s presidents and their families have enjoyed the company of cats while in office. Meet some of the fearless felines who have guarded our Commanders-in-Chief during their time in the White House:
Calvin Coolidge (Tiger) — Although Abraham Lincoln was the first President to keep a cat while in the White House, Coolidge was devoted to his cats and owned several former strays throughout his life. The most well-known, Tiger, was often seen around Coolidge’s neck as his owner paced the halls of the White House, and when Tiger escaped — making it all the way to the Lincoln Memorial before being found!— Coolidge made a special collar for the cat engraved with the words “The White House.”
Jimmy Carter (Misty Malarky Ying Yang) — Siamese cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang was the treasured pet of First Daughter Amy Carter, who brought the feline from Plains, Georgia to the nation’s capital when the family arrived in 1977. Amy was also presented with the gift of a baby elephant while her father was President — but the elephant took up residence in the National Zoo instead of the White House.
George W. Bush (India) — The all-black American shorthair India joined the Bush family when daughters Jenna and Barbara were young girls. After the twins left for college, India stayed in the White House until her death in 2009 at the age of almost 20 years old. Although some individuals abroad protested the name “India,” the cat was not named after the country, but instead after former Texas Ranger baseball player Rubén Sierra, who was nicknamed “El Indio.”
Bill Clinton (Socks) — The Clinton family cat, Socks, was an adopted stray who moved into the White House with the family in 1993, and was the subject of such books as Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets and Socks Goes to Washington: The Diary of America’s First Cat. Unable to get along with new family labrador Buddy, Socks moved in with Bill Clinton’s secretary Betty Currie when the family left Washington. Far from easing into retirement after the end of the administration, Socks went on to lead the 2002 Little Rock Christmas Parade and lived with Currie until the ripe age of almost 20 before passing away last year.
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