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Cats in the White House

First Felines: A Litter History of Cats in the White House

A lot of cats have taken up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the years. We’re talking a healthy number of felines running around the White House since the early 1800s. 

But with word that there will soon be a new cat in the White House, we figured what better time than now than to welcome the new “First Feline” into the wonderful world of cat pop culture.  

While little is known about the next big cat in pawlitics, White House officials said in early March that the next First Feline would be sure to “break the internet” once he or she arrives.

Several questions still linger, however. Where will they put the litter box? Will the cat need to obtain security clearance before entering? Will he or she get protection from Secret Service?

Perhaps the most curious of all questions remains…

And now…how about a litter look at the history of all the famous felines to have roamed the halls of the most famous white house of all time.


From wild tigers and lions to a few sweet strays and Siamese, the many felines that have graced the halls of the White House over the years are well documented. Here’s a litter bit of info on each:

India  (2001-2009)

The most recent cat to grace the halls of the White House was a black shorthair named India (also known as Willie.) A beloved family pet of President George W. Bush, India would occasionally appear on the ‘Barneycam’, a stream of the family’s Scottish Terriers. Her favorite room in the White House was the Library, and she passed away at the age of 18 while Bush was ending his second term. 

Socks (1993-2001)

Socks, the popular cat of President Bill Clinton, may be the most famous presidential cat we’ve had yet, making appearances in children’s books, hospitals, schools, the Christmas parades, and even at an Air Force base. Socks had a well-publicized feud with the family dog while living at the White House.

Cleo & Sara (1981-1989)

President Ronald Regan didn’t actually move any cats into the White House, rather he had someone tend to his tortoise shell cats named Cleo and Sara. Both former stray cats enjoyed instead enjoyed living at the family’s California ranch during his terms as commander in chief.

Misty Malarky Ying Yang (1977-1981)

Misty Malarky Ying Yang was a Siamese cat, brought to the White House by President Jimmy Carter’s daughter, Amy. Misty was fond of her owner and was known to meow along to her Violin lessons and hide in her dollhouse. 

Shan Shien (1974-1977)

Shan, another Siamese cat to earn the title of First Cat, was brought into the White House by President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan. Shan was known to love the Liberty Bedroom (Susan’s bedroom), fresh bowls of cream, and avoiding the family’s Golden Retriever as much as possible. 

Tom Kitten (1961-1963)

President John F. Kennedy was known to be an animal lover, but the cat that lived with him in the White House actually belonged to his daughter. Tom Kitten, pictured here, unfortunately triggered JFK’s allergies and was moved into a staffers house only a few weeks after moving in.

Blacky, Bounder, Timmie and Tiger (1923-1929)

President Calvin Coolidge reportedly owned several cats, large and small, while serving as the commander-in-chief. In addition to a bobcat and two lion cubs, which were reportedly given as gifts, Coolidge owned four cats named Blacky, Bounder, Timmie, and Tiger. 

Puffins & Mittens (1913-1921)

President Woodrow Wilson owned two cats,  Puffins and Mittens. Not much is known about the cats, other than that they were mischievous felines that liked to jump on the dining room table.

Slippers & Tom Quartz (1901- 1909)

President Teddy Roosevelt was known for his love of wildlife and nature and did his best to bring as much of it into the White House as he could. Roosevelt owned two cats that he was reportedly infatuated with. One was named Slippers, a six-toed cat, and the other was named Tom Quartz, who was named after a Mark Twain story.

Piccolomini, Siam & Miss Pussy (1877-1881)

President Rutherford B. Hayes was also fond of cats and owned three during his term. One was named Piccolomini, one named Miss Pussy, and the other was the very first Siamese cat to arrive in the United States– imaginatively named Siam. 

Dixie & Tabby (1861-1865)

The two cats that served as ‘First Felines’ during President Abraham Lincoln’s term were named Dixie and Tabby, they were gifts from Secretary of State William Seward. Lincoln was the first president to own cats in the White House and was known to be especially fond of them – he was once even scolded for feeding one of his cats at the dinner table and responded by saying, “If the gold fork was good enough for James Buchanan, I think it is good enough for Tabby.”

Van Buren’s Tigers (1837-1841)

Technically, the first cats to call the White House home were two young tigers gifted by Kabul al Said, the Sultan of Oman to former President Martin Van Buren. The tigers were eventually moved to a local zoo, after Congress stepped in.


Check out this great compilation of cat names we collected from cat lovers like you.

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