Let's Look Back on Which U.S. Presidents Have Had Cats in the White House

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Jan. 28 2022, Published 3:38 p.m. ET

Source: Reba Spike via Unsplash

Over the years, many U.S. Presidents have owned pets while serving their terms — though most of the time we hear about First Dogs, it seems First Cats are slowly climbing up the ranks. With the Biden administration introducing their own feline addition, we thought it would be great to look back on the other U.S. presidents who had cats as well. Check them out below!

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Joe Biden — Willow

On Jan. 28, 2022, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden introduced the nation to their newest family member: A shorthaired, 2-year-old gray tabby cat named Willow! Her name is derived from the first lady's hometown of Willow Grove, Pa.

Willow first came into the Bidens' lives in 2020, "when she jumped on stage and interrupted [Dr. Biden's] remarks during a campaign stop," press secretary Michael LaRosa stated in a news release. "Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden."

George W. Bush — India "Willie"

In the early '90s, President George W. Bush and his wife Laura obtained India "Willie," an all-black American Shorthair. Following George's inauguration as President, India moved with the family to the White House. Sadly, India passed away there on Jan. 4, 2009, at the age of 18.

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Bill Clinton — Socks

In 1991, the Clinton's adopted Socks, a black-and-white stray cat. Per the Presidental Pet Museum, the decision to take in the cat came after he jumped into Chelsea Clinton's arms as she was leaving her piano teacher's home in Little Rock, Ark.

Socks was very famous amongst youngsters, hosting the children's version of the White House official website as an animated character. At the age of 19, Socks passed away from jaw cancer.

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Ronald Reagan — Cleo and Sara

President Reagan housed many pets during his lifetime, two of which included tortoiseshell cats named Cleo and Sara. Rather than living with the Reagan's at the White House, the felines resided at Rancho Del Cielo with the rest of the Reagan pet clan.

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Jimmy Carter — Misty Malarky Ying Yang

Misty Malarky Ying Yang, a lovely Siamese cat, was the pet of President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter's only daughter Amy. She lived with the Carter family in the White House, but according to the Presidental Pet Museum, "Misty was not allowed to roam freely through the White House."

Misty's unique name served as inspiration for Gabor Szabo's original instrumental composition called, you guessed it, "Misty Malarky Ying Yang." Listen to it here!

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Gerald Ford — Shan

President Ford's and his wife Betty gifted Shan Shein — a miniature seal point Siamese cat named after a town in China — to their daughter Susan on Easter of 1973. Once Gerald Ford became president in 1974, Shan followed and moved into the White House with the rest of the family and spent most of her time avoiding Liberty, the Fords' friendly golden retriever.

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John F. Kennedy — Tom Kitten

Tom Kitten was the cat of President Kennedy's daughter, Caroline. Though he was rarely at the White House, Tom Kitten, sometimes referred to as "Tom Terrific," was the first pet of the Kennedy family to arrive at the White House in 1961. According to the Presidental Pet Museum, Tom passed away "at a very young age on Aug. 21, 1962."

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Calvin Coolidge — Blacky and Tiger ("Tige")

During his time in the White House, President Coolidge owned many animals, including two cats named Blacky and Tiger, better known as "Tige." The latter loved to explore and hang around the Coolidge family; as for Blacky, he spent much of his time alone, specifically in the kitchen hoping for scraps. Both felines remained with the Coolidge family after their term in the oval office ended.

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Woodrow Wilson — Mittens and Puffins

Though President Wilson's most famous pet was his ram named Old Ike, he had plenty of other pets to keep him company in the White House. The Presidental Pet Museum confirms that he had two cats — Puffins and Mittens — who were both rather mischievous. The duo reportedly loved hopping up on the dining room table, which resulted in a spritz of water as punishment.

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Theodore Roosevelt — Tom Quartz and Slippers

President Roosevelt was a massive animal lover — he and his family owned several pets during their lifetimes, including two cats called Tom Quartz and Slippers.

Tom was named after a feline from Mark Twain’s novel Roughing It, but he was nothing like the character; Teddy's own Tom Quartz was quite feisty, causing a stir in the White House and frequently tormenting Jack, one the family's pups.

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As for Slippers, the blue-gray tabby was polydactyl, meaning he had an extra toe on his paws. Like his brother Tom Quartz, Slippers also had no manners. He often plopped himself down for a nap in the middle of formal meetings and dinners.

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Rutherford B. Hayes — Piccolomini and Siam

Among several other pets, President Rutherford B. Hayes had two cats with him in the White House: Siam and Piccolomini. In 1879, David B. Sickels presented President Hayes and his wife Lucy with Siam, the first Siamese kitten to reach the United States. Sadly, she became ill several months after arriving and died shortly after.

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Abraham Lincoln — Tabby and Dixie

President Abraham Lincoln was incredibly fond of cats, so of course, he welcomed two (among other strays) to the White House. Once inaugurated into office, Secretary of State William Seward gifted Abraham Lincoln with Tabby and Dixie, who he grew to love immensely.

He would sometimes feed the cats from the dining table during formal meals and even once claimed that "Dixie is smarter than [his] whole cabinet!"

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