Presidential Pets

I will admit I got super excited when First Lady-elect Jill Biden recently mentioned a cat would be joining the family in the White House, along with two German Shepherds. While I love all our furry, feathered and finned friends, cats hold a special place in my heart.

I can’t tell you much about Bill Clinton’s campaign for President back in the 1990’s but I sure remember everything about Spot. I was actively nervous the poor little thing would get lost in all those rooms. I mean, cats are really good at hiding.

Thinking about this potential presidential kitty sent me down the research rabbit hole (no pun intended) of pets that have called the White House home. Did you know John Quincy Adams kept an alligator in the bathtub? Or that Theodore Roosevelt had a bear cub (and a one legged rooster) and James Buchanan called an eagle his best friend? Lincoln had goats. And Andrew Johnson had a soft spot for the mice that would scurry underfoot (it was 1865 and there were many mice).

So for those who want to go a little deeper, a few titles concerned with presidential pets. All descriptions from Amazon or author website.

Presidential Pets: The Weird, Wacky, Little, Big, Scary, Strange Animals That Have Lived In The White House, by Julie Moberg

Did you know that John Quincy Adams kept an alligator in the bathtub, while Thomas Jefferson’s pride and joy was his pair of bear cubs? Andrew Jackson had a potty-mouthed parrot, and Martin Van Buren got into a fight with Congress over his two baby tigers. Find out all about the weird, wacky, little, big, scary, strange animals that have lived in the White House.
Perfect for election year collections and displays. This rollicking, rhyming look at the animal residents of the White House introduces each set of pets with a funny verse along with cool facts and presidential stats. This trek through history will delight any animal-loving kid.




If You Want a Friend In Washington: Wacky, Wild and Wonderful Presidential Pets, by Erin McGill

President Truman famously said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” And a dog is what many presidents got. From James Garfield to Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon, presidents often found a friend in Fido (in fact, Abe Lincoln’s pup was actually named Fido). Others preferred cats, horses, small critters, or even big, ferocious animals like bears and alligators. With a catchy refrain (“If you want a friend in Washington . . . , “), this is a funny, educational book about the animals that have passed through the White House. Whether it’s favorite dogs like Barbara Bush’s Millie or the Obamas’ Bo; Abraham Lincoln’s cat, Dixie; Calvin Coolidge’s hippo, Billy; or Andrew Jackson’s foul-mouthed parrot, Poll, Erin McGill brings to life a menagerie of presidential pets in this entertaining, whimsical, and carefully researched picture book that’s perfect for animal lovers and history buffs alike.



Unleashed, by Ronald Kidd

Alongside the politicians and dignitaries, some crazy pets have lived in the White House. In this story the father of Tipp’s beautiful brave and loyal owner Alastair has been elected president of the United States and some people think Tipp is not the right dog for the White House. The friends travel back in time and discover the White House has always welcomed four-legged friends of all kinds. From alligators to cows, unique pets abound in the White House history.






First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends, by Brooke Janis and Roy Rowan

(This is not a kids book exactly but the photographs are sure to delight any age audience.)

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,” Harry Truman once said. Perhaps that’s why, for much of our Republic’s history, there have been two top dogs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—one with two legs, one with four. First Dogs, by distinguished journalist Roy Rowan and researcher Brooke Janis, tells the whole doggone story, from the days before there was a White House to Barack Obama’s newly adopted presidential pup, Bo.

Beth McMullen