Thursday, March 14, 2013

White House Cats

India Willie Bush
India "Willie" Bush
While dogs may have seemed to dominate the history of White House pet residency, there have been plenty of cats who have spent time curled up in front of one of the 28 fireplaces that can be found at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
India “Willie” Bush (George W. Bush) - This American shorthair was a reflection of his presidential parent in more ways than one. Sure, there’s the head-scratching name of India Willie. But what would a Bush story be without controversy, particularly in the form of ticking off people around the world.
Amy Carter and cat

Amy Carter with Ying Yang.
The name India drew the ire of some in that country, which included reports of the burning of a Bush effigy in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. While many protests of one of the most divisive presidents in history were valid, this one was much adieu about nothing. The kitty was named after baseball player Ruben “El Indio” Sierra, who happened to play for the Texas Rangers when Bush owned the team. All the stress apparently did not get to India, since he passed away at the ripe old age of 18 in 2009.
Misty Malarky Ying Yang (Jimmy Carter) - Dubya clearly did not have the strangest name for a cat in presidential history. That honor goes to the Carter family’s seal point Siamese. MMYY was known to spend time in Amy Carter’s indoor doll house.
Socks (Bill Clinton) - Presidents’ dogs may usually steal the national spotlight, but Socks had a pretty good run. As the story goes, Socks made the leap to the White House first metaphorically when he jumped into Chelsea Clinton’s arms in 1991 before she left her piano teacher’s house in Little Rock, Arkansas. After passing away in 2009 from cancer, Socks’ ashes were transported back to Arkansas.
Calvin Coolidge with cat

Calvin Coolidge with Tiger
Tabby (Abraham Lincoln) - While he wasn’t the first president with a cat, Abe was the first (known) to bring one into the White House. His son Tad asked to bring his cat Tabby, and Lincoln obliged.
Piccolomini, Miss Pussy and Siam (Rutherford B. Hayes) - Of the three Hayes cats, Siam was the most momentous, since he was the first Siamese cat in the U.S.
Slippers and Tom Quartz (Theodore Roosevelt) - Teddy was a trailblazer, so one should expect his pets to be a little different as well. Slippers was a gray, six-toed cat. There was also Tom Quartz, named after the cat in Mark Twain’s book, Roughing It.
The Six Cats of Calvin Coolidge - President Coolidge’s affinity for cats started early in life when as a young boy he saved a litter of kittens from drowning. While he occupied the White House, Coolidge had felines named Smokey, Blackie, Tiger, Bounder, Timmie and Climber.

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Jason Knapfel is Co-Founder of, a growing resource for all things related to the beloved animals that we share our homes with.

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