Most presidents are known for the gift of gab.
So it is fitting that several Siamese cats — which are known for their “talking” and for their inquisitive personalities — have made their home in the White House.
The first Siamese cat to come to the United States was Siam, a female cat given as a gift to President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy, in 1879, by our American consul in Bangkok, David B. Sickels.
Siam had a long journey and probably used up quite a few of her nine lives on the way from Thailand. She was first shipped to Hong Kong, then to San Francisco; and from there, she traveled by land to Washington.
Elegant and slender with long legs and bright blue eyes, Siam created quite a stir in the White House. Lucy Hayes at first named the cat Miss Pussy, but changed her name to Siam after noticing her regal bearing and high-born attitude. The cat soon became a favorite of Fanny, the president’s daughter.
Sadly, Siam became sick several months after arriving in our nation’s capital. Even though the president’s own physician was asked to examine the cat, Siam did not recover. Records show that instructions were given to preserve the cat’s body, but a stuffed Siam has never been found, according to the Hayes Presidential Center.
Two More Presidential Siamese Cats
Many decades later, two more Siamese cats made their home in the White House:
- President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan, brought her Siamese cat named Shan with her to Pennsylvania Avenue when her father became president in 1974. Susan and Shan even made the cover of People Magazine!
- The Siamese cat vibe at the White House continued for another term with President Jimmy Carter’s daughter’s cat. Amy Carter had one of the more uniquely named presidential pets with a Siamese named Misty Malarky Ying Yang. The personable, high-energy Misty made her presence known among Amy’s 39 teddy bears.