Abraham Lincoln was the first president to have cats at the White House!
PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND HIS CATS
Lincoln was given an unexpected gift of two kittens from William Seward, then Secretary of State. The President pampered his cats, Tabby and Dixie. It is told that he once fed Tabby from the table during a formal dinner at the White House. Later when the president’s wife Mary expressed her concern and embarrassment to her husband about feeding Tabby from the table in front of their guests, it is told the president stated, “If the gold fork was good enough for former President Buchanan, I think it is good enough for Tabby.”
Caleb Carman, Lincoln’s friend, told how the president would talk to his cats for half an hour at a time. During his term, Lincoln remarked, “Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore she doesn’t talk back!”
LINCOLN LOVED ALL CATS
Lincoln’s love for cats was not limited to Tabby and Dixie. He was known to bring home stray cats from time to time. It is reported that Lincoln was distracted by the sound of crying kittens at the Ulysses S. Grant headquarters in Virginia during the siege of Petersburg in March of 1864. Admiral David Porter wrote he was touched by the sight of the president “tenderly caressing three stray kittens. It well illustrated the kindness of the man’s disposition and showed the childlike simplicity which was mingled with the grandeur of his nature.”
Porter remembered Lincoln petting the cats and quietly telling them, “Kitties, thank God you are cats, and can’t understand this terrible strife that is going on.”
Before he left the officers’ tent, the president addressed a colonel and said, ” I hope you will see that these poor little motherless waifs are given plenty of milk and treated kindly.”