F is for Felines, Fido and Feller
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865), Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Harry S. Truman (1945-1953), John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961-1963), Ronald Reagan (1981-1989), and George W. Bush (2001-2009).
Were you wondering if cats lived at the WH? Wonder no more!!!
These are the cats that I know next to nothing about, or, were not needed on another day’s letter, or I had so much information and/or photos, they warranted their own letter (like Socks, President Clinton’s cat!)
President Abraham Lincoln loved cats. He would bring stray kittens home as a boy and since Fido had to stay in Springfield (more about that later), Secretary of State William Steward gave him two kittens. They were named Tabby and Dixie. Lincoln was known to feed Tabby at the table during formal dinners and once said that Dixie was smarter than his whole cabinet, and didn’t talk back! There is no indication of what happened to the cats when Mary Todd Lincoln left the WH after her husband’s assassination, but I’m fairly certain someone took Tabby and Dixie into their care. (Representative photo.)
President Theodore Roosevelt had 2 cats: Tom Quartz, who would torment his dog Jack; and Slippers, a polydactyl cat. It is recorded that after one evening after a formal dinner party the president was escorting the wife of an ambassador from the dining room when he came upon Slippers – stretched out in the middle of the hallway purring. Instead of moving Slippers or stepping over the cat, Roosevelt went around her, forcing all those dignitaries who came after to do the same. (Representative photo.)
President Woodrow Wilson had a cat named Puffins. (Vintage rep photo.)
President Calvin Coolidge had two cats as well: Tiger and Blacky. Tiger was a great wanderer and went as far as the Lincoln Memorial. He was brought back and the President had two leather collars made for the cats, each stamped with “White House” on them. Tiger’s was green and Blacky’s was red. In the spring time Blacky started hunting and killing baby birds and rabbits; being lovers of all animals, the Coolidge’s decided to put the cats on a screened in porch until nesting season was over. When at last the two cats were set free, Tiger ran away, never to be seen again. Blacky, however knew a good thing when he had it and settled down in the WH kitchen where food and drink were always nearby.
President John F. Kennedy‘s daughter Caroline had cat named Tom Kitten.
President Ronald Reagan had ranch cats, names unknown.
President George W. Bush reportedly had two cats, India and Ernie. India has her own day (“I” letter day) so I won’t talk about her here. But out of all the sources I read I only found one reference to a cat named Ernie. So that’s all I have to say about that. Here’s a hint to what India looks like – she was a house panther!!
When President Abraham Lincoln packed up his family to go to Washington, the family dog, Fido, wasn’t going with them. One source says that it was because he was afraid of loud noises like trains and wouldn’t be able to tolerate the ride from Illinois to Washington. Another said that because the dog was shared by the Lincolns and a family up the road, they couldn’t take him when he also belonged to the boys up the street. (Apparently Fido would wander between the two families – both with a pair of young boys – and eat and sleep at both houses.) On the day they had to move knowing how upset her boys were to leave their beloved Fido behind, Mary Todd Lincoln took him to have his portrait made. Fido’s pet portrait is the first one ever recorded! And amazingly, the photo exists today. It was sold at an auction in 12/2012 for an estimated $1500.
Feller, the Unwanted Dog
President Harry S. Truman was NOT a dog lover. He came from Missouri to Washington dog-less and when he was sent a Cocker Spaniel puppy by a supporter, Truman gave him away to his personal physician. Apparently this angered many dog lovers across America and he received a lot of hate mail over it. About Feller, Truman reportedly said, “I didn’t ask for him and I don’t need him.” It was probably good that Feller didn’t stay with such a dog-hater. Feller ended up at an Ohio farm where he lived happily and died of old age.