How many cats have lived at the White House?

We don’t have an exact figure for the number of domestic cats that have lived at the White House with US presidents over the years so the question in the title cannot be answered with accuracy, sadly. However, there seems to have been around 20+ as a rough estimate. That’s the end of the article!

Not quite because briefly below I cover the presidents who had cats at the White House. One “problem president” in terms of numbers of cats is Calvin Coolidge because his family had “cats big and small”. He was a cat lover and he had a lot of cats but we don’t have a number. In the picture below we see him in what appears to be sackcloth holding a young cat. It’s remarkable how clothes have changed over the years. They look so unsophisticated. Another president with multiple cats was Theodore Roosevelt but we don’t have a number.

Calvin Coolidge with cat. Picture courtesy Library of Congress
Calvin Coolidge with cat. Picture courtesy Library of Congress
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It’s probably fair to say that dogs have been more popular than cats at the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

  • Abraham Lincoln was an avid cat lover and he had two cats, Tabby and Dixie.
  • Rutherford Hayes was the first president to bring a Siamese cat into the White House called Siam.
  • Theodore Roosevelt had according to Newsweek “multiple pets” at the White House. He had the most pets at the White House of all the presidents. One of them was Slippers, a six-toed cat (polydactyl). He also had Tom Quartz.
  • Woodrow Wilson lived with two cats during his presidency, Mittens and Puffins
  • Calvin Coolidge as mentioned had many cats ‘big and small’ four of whom were Bounder, Tiger, Mud and Blacky. He was given a bobcat and a lion cub by South African dignitaries. I don’t know what happened to them. They probably went to a zoo.
  • John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline had a Siamese cat which spent most of his time living with White House staffer Mary Gallagher. That’s because John F. Kennedy was allergic to cats!
  • Gerald Ford’s cat Shan belonged to his daughter Susan which was also a Siamese cat.
  • And a third Siamese cat lived at the White House when Jimmy Carter was president. Once again, the cat actually belonged to Carter’s daughter Amy. The cat’s name was very exotic ‘Misty Malarky Ying Yang’ which is probably given to her/him by Amy which indicates an imaginative nature.
  • Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy had two cats, Cleo and Sara.
  • Bill Clinton lived with his famous cat Socks.
  • George W Bush’s family’s black cat India was also nicknamed Willie. She lived with the family for almost 20 years and died just weeks before the Obama has moved into the White House.
  • Current US President Biden has a cat named, Willow (born January 3, 2020). She is a tabby domestic short-haired cat.

My thanks to Newsweek for this information. I can’t verify whether it is accurate, sadly. I hope you don’t mind. It looks like a pretty complete list to me though.

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3 thoughts on “How many cats have lived at the White House?”

  1. Hey Mike did you know we have a White House Historian web page where you can ask a question. I asked them “How many cats have lived in the White House?” And “Which presidents have owned a cat.” Lets see if I get a response. I think they do know. 🙂

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