In The Know

Feline lovers to Obama: Time to get a cat

President Obama welcomed the newest four-legged member to the first family this week, as the White House revealed that the White House residents are the proud owners of a second Portuguese water dog, named Sunny. 

But that has fans of America’s other most popular pet, cats, saying its time for a feline to claw its way into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

“I’m happy that President Obama recognized the value in having more than one pet, but wished he would’ve used the opportunity to add a cat to the family,” certified cat behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennett told ITK in an email.

The host of “Psycho Kitty” on Discovery UK and Nat Geo Wild Canada tells us, “For too long, cats have been viewed as second class pet citizens and have endured so much misinformation spread about them. President Obama could’ve help shine a light on the joy of cat adoption.”

{mosads}Johnson-Bennett, who runs Cat Behavior Associates and is the author behind seven bestsellers on cat behavior and training, says during these fractured political times, “This was a missed opportunity for pet bipartisanship.”

A cat hasn’t put its paws in the White House since 2009, when then-President George W. Bush’s cat, India, an all-black American Shorthair, died just weeks before Obama’s inauguration.

But the then-commander in chief’s tail-wagging companions, Scottish Terriers Barney and Miss Beazley — who received much of the press during Bush’s tenure — likely overshadowed India’s time at the presidential digs. Barney, often referred to as the “first dog,” even got his own film crew to shoot his well-known “Barney Cam” video series.

Luciane Anderson, editor of the site, points to a startling statistic, “To date, the United States of America had 44 presidents, but only 12 of them had cats in the White House.”

According to, while 68 percent of the nation’s presidents have had dogs, a mere 20 percent have owned kitties. In fact, more presidents have owned horses and birds, both at 30 percent each, than cats.

“Cats are beautiful, clever, independent and mysterious.  A cat will treat your guests politely, they keep themselves entertained (us too!), and they purr when they are happy. Having a cat is like adding a piece of art to your home,” contends Anderson.

With Sunny and their 4-year-old dog, Bo, the Obamas have stuck with hypoallergenic pets reportedly due to daughter Malia’s allergies. But says there are several options for allergy sufferers when it comes to cats, including Balinese, Javanese, and Cornish Rex lines, among others.

And Anderson doesn’t appear to be giving up hope that the Obamas might add a meowing addition to their brood: “Perhaps the Obama family will find room in their home and hearts to bring a kitten or a mature cat home. With so many breeds to choose from, they could certainly find one that would be a purrrfect match for their lifestyle.”

She says, “Cat lovers everywhere would love to see another feline living in the White House.”

Photo: Wikimedia


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