Tag: presidential pets

Sunday Cats: Chonky Kitty Gets A Home, Footballer Gets Second Chance After Cat Abuse

Sterling the cat is a cute and playful little guy, and no doubt would have his fans among those who love chonksters, but he has to lose weight.

That was the gist of the message posted by staff at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Michigan, who wanted to find a home for Sterling but also wanted to make sure his new human(s) would be dedicated to his health.

The silver tabby with a Buddesian coat pattern tips the scales at 30 pounds. Not only is the weight unhealthy, but it makes life as a cat difficult.

“We know, those plump cheeks are adorable. But obesity is terribly unhealthy for cats,” Humane Society staff wrote on Instagram. “Sterling is fastidious about hygiene, but can’t groom himself properly (we had to shave matted fur off his back). He’s so lively and playful, but can’t chase after toys. He’s curious about the world, but can’t jump up to look out the window. He’s so affectionate, but can’t comfortably snuggle with his people.”

An adopter has stepped up to the plate and given Sterling a new family, a deal that includes committing to working with a veterinarian to get the kitty to slim down. The Humane Society haven’t said who the adopter is, but Sterling’s adoption profiles disappeared shortly after the shelter’s impassioned plea on Feb. 9.

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Sterling weighs about 30 pounds. Credit: Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Zouma gets another shot

Kurt Zouma, the Premiere League footballer who earned himself worldwide condemnation over the last week for uploading a video showing him abusing his own cat, won’t lose his job due to the scandal.

West Ham United Coach David Moyes said Zouma’s actions were “completely out of character from Kurt” and compared the abuse incidents to drunken driving.

“He’s a really good lad and we’re going to get him some help,” Moyes told reporters. “Just like people with drink-drive offences have to go to classes to learn the reasons and the damage that can be done, the RSPCA are going to provide some courses for Kurt to understand about animals and how to treat them.”

Moyes says Zouma has repeatedly apologized, and he thinks the French national is sincerely contrite.

“But what do you do?” the coach asked. “Do you keep punishing people or do you give them a chance to make things right? All of us in life need second chances sometimes, and we’re going to give Kurt a second chance.”

The controversy flared up immediately after the UK Sun published a story about three short clips showing Zouma drop-kicking, slapping and throwing a shoe at his cat. The clips were filmed by Zouma’s brother, who can be heard laughing in the background, and involved Zouma’s son.

In his apology, Zouma said the abuse was “an isolated incident,” but said there was “no excuse” for his actions.

“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video,” the soccer pro said.

Zouma was fined £ 250,000 — equal to about $330,000 — which is the maximum amount the club could fine him under league rules. He also lost his primary sponsorship with Adidas, which issued a terse statement and immediately dropped the center-back from its roster, and insurance company Vitality pulled its sponsorship from the entire team. Two other sponsors said they would meet with the club to discuss the issue.

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Scotsman Jason Kerr of Wigan gently scoops up Topsey, a house cat who interrupted play on Tuesday night by running onto the pitch in a match between Wigan and West Ham United.

Zouma also surrendered both of his cats — the one who was abused in the video and a second feline — to the RSPCA, which is conducting an investigation. Like the SPCA in the US, which has its own law enforcement division, the RSPCA has the ability to file criminal charges in cases involving animal abuse and neglect.

The felines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Did you know the first Siamese cat to reach America’s shores was probably Siam, who belonged to First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes?

Back when Thailand was called Siam, U.S. ambassador David B. Sickels read that Mrs. Hayes — wife of Rutherford B. Hayes — was a cat lover and sent one of the now-famous Asian cats to the White House.

“I have taken the liberty of forwarding to you one of the finest specimens of Siamese cats that I have been able to procure in this country,” Sickels wrote to the First Lady in 1878. “I am informed that this is the first attempt ever made to send a Siamese cat to America.”

While we’ve written quite a bit about the famous cats who have occupied the White House over the years, the Hayes story and others are also detailed in a new article from Smithsonian Magazine, which marked the occasion of Willow the cat’s arrival by revisiting presidential pet history. It’s well worth a read if you like the idea of kitties roaming the halls of power and even sitting on one president’s lap during state dinners, eating at the table like humans.

Sunday Cats: White House Welcomes Willow

Willow’s in the White House!

First Lady Jill Biden promised a cat would reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a presidential pet during her husband’s administration, and a year after President Joe Biden was sworn in, Willow the cat has joined the First Family in Washington.

Willow is a gray tabby who got Jill Biden’s attention in a very cat-like way: She invited herself onstage while the First Lady was giving a campaign speech for her husband on a Pennsylvania farm in 2020.

A campaign official later called the farm’s owner, Rick Telesz, and asked if the Bidens could adopt the friendly moggie. Willow is two years old and is the first presidential cat since India, a black American Shorthair who belonged to former President George W. Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna. India lived to the ripe old age of 18, outliving Bush’s two terms as president.

The Bidens had another cat lined up, but delayed the cat’s arrival because their dog, Major, wasn’t adjusting well to the White House and was known for biting staff and Secret Service agents. Major’s been sent back to the family home in Delaware, but in the meantime the cat the Bidens were going to adopt got attached to its foster family and became a foster fail.

Willow seems to be doing just fine. Michael Larosa, the First Lady’s press secretary, told reporters Willow has been “settling into the White House with her favorite toys, treats, and plenty of room to smell and explore.”

She’ll be doing a lot of exploring — there are 132 rooms in the White House, and most former presidential cats were given the run of the executive residence as well as the West Wing. Socks, President Bill Clinton’s cat, had access to the Oval Office and was sometimes spotted in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, even choosing the famous podium for a lounging spot once.

Cats have a long and distinguished history in the White House, from the incredible fame of Socks to Abraham Lincoln’s Dixie and Tabby. Lincoln once called the former “smarter than my whole Cabinet,” while he often embarrassed his wife by feeding the latter from the White House dinner table. Click here to read our post from last year detailing the lives and adventures of presidential cats.

There Won’t Be A Cat In The White House Any Time Soon, Thanks To The Dog

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.”

The Natural Order of Things
A brave and heroic cat executes a glorious karate kick to the face of a slobbering, clumsy dog, proving once again that felines are superior.

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.”

Buddy the Cat: Handsome and Meowscular
Bud is not only smart and good looking, he also has huge meowscles and is known for his bravery

This Presidential Pet Stuff Just Gets Weirder And Weirder

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?

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Catmander in Chief. I’ll see myself out now…

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.

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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.

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As the president’s pet, Socks became the most famous feline on the planet.

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.

 

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India, former presidential cat. (Wikimedia Commons.)

 

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In this photo from the 1920s, US Navy Officer Benjamin Fink holds Tiger, President Calvin Coolidge’s cat. Tiger often rode around on the president’s shoulders in the White House. (Library of Congress)

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.”

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Lincoln with 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.”