7 Popular Presidential Cats in US History

Published: 10/27/2020

First felines may not be as common as presidential pooches, but plenty of US presidents have had purring pals throughout history. From Siamese to American shorthairs, a wide variety of cuddly cats have spent time snoozing and causing mischief in the White House. Here are a few of the most popular presidential cats in US history.

Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865): Tabby and Dixie

Abraham Lincoln was a big supporter of animal rights and allowed his sons to keep many animals during his presidency. Two of those critters were Tabby and Dixie, the first presidential felines. Tabby and Dixie were gifts from Secretary of State William Seward and quickly became Lincoln's favorite pets. He would play with them for hours, and even once fed Tabby table scraps during a formal dinner at the White House. 

Lincoln obviously thought highly of his feline friends and even once stated that, "Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet!" Lincoln loved cats so much he would often rescue strays. One famous instance was on a visit to General Ulysses S. Grant during the siege of Petersburg when Admiral David Porter observed Lincoln playing with and caring for two small kittens. 

President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881): Siam  

Another animal lover, President Rutherford B. Hayes had a menagerie of animals, including a mockingbird, jersey cows, and a goat. One unique addition was Siam, the first Siamese cat to grace the White House. Siam was a gift from David B. Sickels, America's Thai consul. Siam had a long journey from Thailand to the US, traveling by boat to Hong Kong, then San Francisco, before making her way to Washington. 

Rutherford B. Hayes' wife, Lucy, originally wanted to call Siam Miss Pussy, but changed it to Siam upon seeing the cat's elegant appearance. Siam was also the favorite pet of Rutherford B. Hayes' daughter, Fanny.

Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909): Slippers 

President Theodore Roosevelt had the largest and most exotic collection of animals of any president. He had everything from a one-legged rooster to a laughing hyena named Bill. However, one of the best known of Roosevelt's pets was Slippers the six-toed cat. A bluish gray tabby, Slippers was polydactyl, meaning he had an extra toe on each paw that resembles a thumb. 

Regularly seen around the White House, Slippers loved taking naps in the middle of the White House corridors, forcing dignitaries to step carefully around the kipping kitty. Teddy Roosevelt also often brought Slippers along to formal White House dinners. 

Jimmy Carter (1977-1981): Misty Malarky Ying Yang 

Siamese cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang has the distinction of having one of the most unusual pet names in presidential history. Misty was the favorite pet of Carter's daughter, Amy. While not as sociable as many other White House felines, Misty was devoted to Amy, and the two regularly played together in Amy's dollhouse. Misty couldn't freely roam the White House but was well taken care of, often enjoying meals prepared by the White House kitchen. Despite the effeminate name, Misty was actually a tomcat! 

Bill Clinton (1993-2001): Socks

President Bill Clinton's black and white cat, Socks, is perhaps the most famous feline first pet ever. An adopted stray, Socks was hugely popular even before Clinton became president, with photographers constantly trying to snap pictures of Socks on the Arkansas governor's lawn. He would sometimes sit on Bill's shoulders in the Oval Office and would accompany First Lady Hilary to events at local hospitals and schools. 

Socks was so popular he had his own website, and a cartoon version of him greeted people on the official White House page. He was also the subject of an unreleased video game and appeared as a Muppet on Larry King Live along with Kermit the Frog. Unfortunately, Socks didn't get along with presidential pup, Buddy, and went to go live with White House secretary Betty Currie. 

President George W. Bush (2001-2009): India 

Jet-black American shorthair, India, was the last feline to grace the White House. While not as well-known as the president’s Scottish Terriers Barney and Miss Beazley, India was still popular with the public. Nicknamed “Willie”, India was considered a bookworm, spending a lot of her time snoozing in the White House library. India was a reclusive kitty, spending lots of her hiding under the bed from her pet parents.