The postcard featured Socks, the White House cat. Most presidents have brought pets to the White House, primarily dogs, but Thomas Jefferson kept two bear cubs, Andrew Jackson had a swearing parrot and William Harding boasted Pete the Squirrel.
Teddy Roosevelt is famous for his menagerie that numbered a barn owl, badger and guinea pigs among more mundane dogs and ponies. But Calvin Coolidge gave him a run for his money with a large assortment that included a goose, bobcat, pygmy hippo, and lion cubs named Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau.
Besides the Clintons and Socks, other cat-loving presidents included Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln, who once remarked that his cat Dixie was “smarter than my whole cabinet.” The Carters, Fords and Rutherford B. Hayes all kept Siamese cats in particular. In fact, Hayes’ Siamese cat — Siam — was the first of its breed in the United States.
But all of these fascinating facts stray from the point that I mailed a postcard to my cats, and since it was from England, I have to wonder where I found one of Socks, an American pet of renown. Did I carry it with me for the express purpose of writing to Mickey and Pi? That’s a slightly embarrassing thought but not outside the realm of possibility.