President William McKinley may not have had the wealth of animals that some of his predecessors had, but he certainly had a few during his Presidential years. Aside from his parrot, Washington Post, he and his wife Ida also had an Angora cat, which gave birth to kittens.
Ida McKinley’s Angora gave birth to a litter of four, and of these four the McKinley’s kept the two smallest kittens. But although they were the smallest of the litter these runts were given weighty names: Valeriano was named for the then-governor of Cuba, and Enrique for the Spanish Ambassador in Washington.
According to Alexandra Powe Allred in her book Cats’ Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Mysterious Mousers, Talented Tabbies, and Feline Oddities, these kittens met a sad end. Shortly after their birth and subsequent naming, the Spanish-American war broke out. In an effort to “make a political statement,” Ida McKinley ordered both kittens to be drowned.
But another source claims that the McKinleys never owned cats of any kind at all, and that the rumor of the drowning is patently false:
“Apart from the fact that Ida McKinley was exceedingly gentle, particularly about any living being that was especially vulnerable, the fallacy of the story rests on one basic fact: the McKinleys never owned, never watched, never turned out for adoption, never even left a saucer of milk at the back door for any cat, kitten or other feline,” declares CarlAnthonyOnline.com.
It is difficult to say whether the McKinleys did in fact own these Angoras, or if the cats were all a myth. As we go backwards in history, information becomes more scattered, scarce, and less reliable. This author was unable to verify for certain the existence of the cats – but neither was she able to disprove it. If the McKinleys did indeed own these Angoras, one hopes that the kittens met a far better end.