First Lady Jill Biden generated hundreds of headlines late in 2020 and again earlier this year as she promised she and her husband would welcome a feline pet to the White House for the first time since the George W. Bush administration.
Since then we haven’t heard anything — until today’s edition of the New York Times, which includes the first sit-down interview with the First Lady since her husband took his oath of office back in January.
It turns out the Bidens did pick a cat, and that cat has been living with a foster family because the Bidens’ other family pet, Major the German Shepherd, has a bit of a biting problem.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed Major’s biting incidents, telling reporters he nipped White House staff twice, but emails obtained by the group Judicial Watch show Major’s biting isn’t so minor: In the first week of March, an internal Secret Service email said “an agent or officer has been bitten every day this week.” The dog also bit a visitor to the White House that same week, according to the email.
Since then there have been other incidents, and the pooch has been shuttled between the White House and Delaware, where he’s spent more time with trainers in an attempt to curb the bad behavior.
The president and First Lady didn’t want to subject their new cat to the stress of living with a bite-happy Husky, so the kitty remained in foster care. It seems the cat is now a “failed foster.”
“The cat is still being fostered with somebody who loves the cat,” Jill Biden told the Times. “I don’t even know whether I can get the cat back at this point.”
In related news, Buddy the Cat — whose track record of biting to get what he wants is second-to-none — volunteered himself to help solve Major’s behavioral issues.
“I’ll straighten him out right quick,” Buddy said, lifting a paw and flexing. “If my razor sharp claws, vicious fangs and intimidating size don’t deter him, my huge meowscles will. I guarantee he’ll want no part of this.”
We’re celebrating Buddy’s belated adoptaversary this weekend. I don’t know exactly when he was born, so we usually mark the occasion on the third weekend in April, which is when I brought Buddy home.
What better way to celebrate than with catnip, Buddy Biscuits treats and his beloved laser pointer?
Hilaria buys an Espanish cat, PETA doesn’t approve
Hilaria Baldwin, the indefatigable child collector, has added another little one to her family, but this time it’s a cat. As the San Jose Mercury News notes, as Hilaria “tries to move past her Spanish heritage scandal, she’s been flooding her Instagram with cute family photos from her busy ‘Baldwinito’ household.”
The new cat, Emilio Cookie Baldwin, is a Bengal purchased from a breeder who “specializes in producing pricey, exotic-looking hybrid cats that originate from crossing a domestic cat with an Asian leopard.” In an unusually mild rebuke (the Baldwinitos are donors to the charity), PETA issued a statement saying there’s “no doubt that [the Baldwins] didn’t realize what the impact of buying a cat from a breeder is” and that, “had they known, we’re sure that they would have gone to an animal shelter and adopted a cat who might otherwise die for the lack of a good home.”
No word yet on whether Emilio knows “how you say in English, cucumber.”
The First Cat
After announcing they were going to adopt a cat, the Bidens have been unusually coy about the who, what and when. Now Jill Biden says a female cat is “waiting in the wings” and will join the family soon. The arrival of the mystery cat will mark the first time since the George W. Bush administration that a cat has occupied the White House. Before India, the Bush family’s cat, there was the Clintons’ cat Socks, who became so famous the White House had a full-time staffer answering his fan mail. Socks even had his own video game in development, which was sadly unreleased but is available for download as abandonware for anyone who can’t get enough Socks.
Plagiarists and content thieves be warned
After I went searching for one of my old posts this week and found it had been plagiarized, a casual search turned up five (!) sites that have stolen my work, stripped it of credit, and posted it as their own content — and that was based on search strings from only three of my posts. Who knows how many others have been lifted?
Two of those posts were stolen by sites that copy the Bored Panda model of finding content on the internet and monetizing it. At least Bored Panda contacts the content owners, credits them and links back to them. These other guys just steal content from people like me, present it as their own and profit off of it.
Take a look around: This site does not have a single ad. I have no Patreon account and I don’t ask for donations. This site is a labor of love. At some point I probably will implement limited and tasteful ads, but in the meantime it’s kind of a slap in the face to find your own content has been stolen and has been used to make money for thieves.
So a fair warning to anyone else who might be tempted to steal content from PITB: I’ll go right to Google, file a DMCA and get your AdSense account suspended. I have zero tolerance for plagiarism and content-scraping. It’s no different than walking into a store, stealing products off the shelves and turning around to sell them. Worse, actually, since writers are rarely well-compensated. Fall back!
Did you know there’s a Presidential Pet Museum? Or that protesters in India burned effigies of George W. Bush because they felt naming his cat India was “an insult” to their country?
Or that one Republican congressman was so incensed by Socks, the Clintons’ cat, that he wrote a letter demanding an accounting for how much taxpayer money was spent on postage to write back to Socks’ fans?
I did a little delving into the world of presidential pets after writing about president-elect Joe Biden’s plans to bring a cat to the White House along with his two dogs.
And man, it’s a weird world. To start with, the Presidential Pet Museum’s Andrew Hager told the New York Times he thinks Biden’s choice is subtly political.
“Maybe this is symbolic of Biden’s oft-repeated desire to unify the country,” he said. “I know that that’s kind of trite, but I’m very curious to see how this goes.”
That didn’t work out so well for Bill Clinton, whose cat Socks famously feuded with Buddy, the awesomely-named Labrador who was the Clinton family’s second pet.
“You know, I did better with the Arabs, the Palestinians and the Israelis than I’ve done with Socks and Buddy,” Clinton lamented during the final days of his presidency in 2001, just before his successor, George W. Bush, was about to take office.
Socks remains popular to this day, with a dedicated group of “Socks enthusiasts” who not only love the former White House cat, they raised more than $33,000 to finish and release a cancelled Super Nintendo game called Socks The Cat Rocks The Hill.
Yeah, Socks had his own game. It was apparently anticipated enough to lead to early reviews and previews in magazines at the time, and featured Socks repeatedly saving the world from nuclear apocalypse at the hands of — and I’m not joking here — “Arab terrorist felines,” bulldogs in Army helmets, and Ross Perot.
According to a preview in 1993’s Playthings magazine:
“In his video game debut, entitled ‘Socks Rocks the House,’ he will venture from the basement of the White House to the Oval Office to create havoc with the President’s allergies. Along the way, while the cat’s at play, Socks must push Millie the dog out the front door as well as avoid Arab terrorist felines.”
There’s a joke in there somewhere, but I value my life so I’ll restrain myself. In any case, the game was finally released in 2018, a quarter century after it was supposed to land on store shelves.
India, the Bush family’s cat, was often overshadowed by the dogs. While First Lady Laura Bush was often photographed holding India, the president himself was frequently seen walking his pups on the White House grounds.
In July of 2004, a crowd in Kerala, India, gathered and condemned Bush for his choice of name for the cat, a wire service report noted at the time:
Members of the citizens group Prathikarana Vedi assembled before the Kerala assembly saying that Bush calling his cat India was an insult to the country.
“This is a disgrace to our great country and this has come from none other than US President George W. Bush,” said M.A. Latheef, president of the group. “He should make amends.”
It turns out India wasn’t named after the country: Bush’s daughter, Barbara, named the American shorthair after Ruben “El Indio” Sierra, a rightfielder who spent his early career with Bush’s Texas Rangers.
Perhaps the greatest cat-lover among presidents was Abraham Lincoln, who once vented that one of his cats, Dixie, “is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore, she doesn’t talk back!”
Lincoln “doted on his cats,” and to the horror and amusement of guests at a formal White House dinner the president fed Tabby, his other cat, from the table. When his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, expressed her embarrassment, the president shrugged it off.
“If the gold fork was good enough for [former President James] Buchanan,” Lincoln quipped, “I think it is good enough for Tabby.”
Lincoln was known for doing his thinking with a cat in his lap, sitting silent while petting Tabby or Dixie and drifting into deep thought. U.S. Navy Admiral David Dixon Porter later wrote of watching Lincoln caring for a trio of stray kittens, which the president later left in the care of US military officers, along with specific orders to treat them well and make sure they were well-fed.
“It well illustrated the kindness of the man’s disposition,” Porter wrote, “and showed the childlike simplicity which was mingled with the grandeur of his nature.”
The Bidens don’t actually have a cat yet, according to media reports. It’s not clear if they plan to adopt or purchase one, although my best guess is that an image-conscious First Family will go with the former route.
When they do, they’ll put a cat in the White House for the first time since George W. Bush’s India, who lived to the ripe old age of 19.
Before that was Socks (Clinton), Cleo and Sara (Reagan), Misty Malarky Ying Yang (Carter), Shan (Ford) and Tom Kitten (Kennedy). Misty and Shan were both Siamese cats. The Obamas had only dogs, as did most historical US presidents, while outgoing President Donald Trump and his family did not have any pets.
Man files lawsuit for return of stolen cat
Pro tip: If someone is obsessed with your cat, comes by just to see him, and repeatedly offers to buy him, it’s probably not a good idea to allow that person to cat-sit your furball.
Zivadin “Chris” Krstic, a 79-year-old shop owner in Manhattan, has accused a woman named Amanda Walker of turning a pet sit into a cat heist after she offered to take care of his cat, Sammy.
Krstic was stuck in Florida during the early days of the Coronavirus epidemic, with travel severely restricted and doctors advising him not to risk it at his age. (New York was also a complete mess at the time, and travel was severely restricted.)
One of his employees was taking care of Krstic’s cat, Sammy, when Walker offered to “help” by taking him.
When Krstic returned, Walker kept asking “to keep Sammy for a few extra days,” according to a lawsuit filed by Krstic seeking the return of the four-year-old ginger-and-white cat.
Finally, Walker told Krstic she wasn’t giving Sammy back to him. The reason? Walker told Krstic he didn’t clean Sammy’s teeth properly, and the cat was “good company” for her.
After that, Krstic alleges, Walker ghosted him and wouldn’t return his calls. She even threatened to take out an order of protection against him, according to the New York Post.
“The cat is perfectly healthy. I take care of him like my own children,” Krstic, who’s had Sammy since kittenhood, told the tabloid. “It’s very sad. I can do nothing. My cat is like part of me. [Walker] is hiding. I tried the nice way and then finally I say … we have to go to the court and let the court decide.”
Twitter generated another round of controversy Wednesday after censoring meows by President Buddy, claiming they were misleading or inaccurate.
It was the fourth time in less than a week that the social media giant censored or amended warnings to the president of the Americats’ messages. The first was President Buddy’s election day tweet to his followers:
“Vote 4 me and all your wildest dreams will come true!!” Buddy tweeted. “Turkey and bacon will rain down from the heavens! The panda demic will last forever, ensuring your humans are always home to do your bidding! Chihuahuas will be deported back to Chihuahua! Great rivers of catnip will flow through the streets!”
The tweet was up for more than 20 minutes before Twitter amended it with a warning to users: “Our community guidelines team have decided this tweet violates our terms of service. No politician can make turkey or bacon rain down from the sky.”
A second tweet was semi-censored late on election night, with Twitter’s team deactivating retweets on the post.
“Well, that looks about wrapped up!!!” Buddy tweeted to his 56.3 million followers. “Tremendous victory! Stand by for turkey — oven roasted, sliced and fried — to rain down from the heavens, my friends, amid clouds ushering in the sweet smell of bacon as crispy bits of it form a deluge over patriotic American skies. (The counties that voted for me.) I’ll sleep well knowing I have four more years! ‘MERICATS!”
By Wednesday morning, President Buddy’s posts had changed in tone as vote tallies indicated tighter contests in North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia. Exit polls indicated the president did well with desert cats in Arizona, who said poultry and bacon were two of the most important issues this election cycle.
“WHAT IS THIS BULLS–? They CHEATED. This is the work of the Siamese, folks! They’ll tell you it was the Russian Blues, but who are all these tech companies beholden to? THE SIAMESE. Americat tech companies are conspiring with the Siamese to censor me, President Buddy, and STEAL THE ELECTION! Sad!”
Less than a half hour later, Twitter tagged the post with another warning: “Our fact-checking unit has determined this tweet is wrong or misleading. There is no evidence the great and powerful Siamese, led by the awe-inspiring Chairman Xinnie the Pooh, have exerted any influence in the Americat election. Xinnie is too wise a man to trouble himself with such rubbish. May he live forever!”
The president’s supporters cried foul, calling for anti-trust proceedings against social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google.
The fourth and most recent censored tweet was sent on Thursday.
“It’s been an exhausting few weeks, but we made it to the finish line!” Buddy tweeted. “Gonna go crash on my human and enjoy a nice long nap. Nothing’s better than sleeping on my Big Buddy.”
Like earlier tweets, the Thursday post had reduced visibility, with Twitter’s engineers blocking the ability to share the tweet.
“Our office of standards and opinion moderation has determined this tweet violates our rules against advising users on sleeping habits and sleep hygiene. In addition, our fact-checkers have determined that declaring Big Buddy as the best human mattress is an opinion that cannot be verified or fact-checked by other cats. All hail Chairman Xinnie.”
Twitter CEO Peter Dinklage did not respond to requests for comment.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.