Socks (cat)

Socks Clinton (March 15[citation needed], 1989 – February 20, 2009) was the pet cat of U.S. President Bill Clinton's family during his presidency. As an adopted stray cat, he was the only pet of the Clintons during the early years of the administration, and his likeness hosted the children's version of the White House website.[1] After Clinton left office, Socks resided with former Clinton secretary Betty Currie and her husband, owing to continuing conflicts with the Clintons' dog Buddy.[2][3]

Socks Clinton
Socks photographed on the South Lawn of the White House
Other name(s)First Cat, First Cat of the United States
BreedDomestic short-haired cat
BornMarch 15, 1989
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 20, 2009(2009-02-20) (aged 19)
Hollywood, Maryland, U.S.
OccupationFirst Cat of the United States (1993–2001)
First Cat of Arkansas (1991–92)
OwnerBill Clinton
Betty Currie
AppearanceBlack-and-white tuxedo
Socks sitting at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, 1994


Socks was born in spring 1989; the date is based on a veterinarian's estimate that he would have turned 20 in spring 2009.[4] He was adopted by the Clintons in 1991 after he jumped into the arms of Chelsea Clinton as she was leaving the house of her piano teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was playing with his sibling, Midnight, who was later adopted by another family.[5]

When Bill Clinton became president, Socks moved with the family from the governor's mansion to the White House and became the principal pet of the First Family in Clinton's first term, though he was known to share his food and water with a stray tabby, dubbed Slippers. He was often taken to schools and hospitals. During the Clinton administration, children visiting the White House website would be guided by a cartoon version of Socks.[1]

He eventually lost the position of principal Clinton pet in 1997 when the Clintons acquired Buddy, a Labrador Retriever.

Socks found Buddy's intrusion intolerable: according to Hillary Clinton, Socks "despised Buddy from first sight, instantly and forever."

Bill Clinton said, "I did better with the Palestinians and the Israelis than I've done with Socks and Buddy."[6] When the Clintons left the White House in 2001, they took Buddy to their new home, but left Socks under the care of Bill Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie. Buddy would die within a year, being hit by a car in 2002.[7]

In December 2002, Socks was part of the Little Rock Christmas parade.

In October 2004, Socks made a then-rare public appearance when Currie was guest speaker at an Officers' Spouses Club luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base. Socks accompanied her and took part in a photo op.

In June 2008, Socks was still living with Currie and her husband in Hollywood, Maryland, about 60 miles from Washington, but had a thyroid condition, hair loss, weight loss, and kidney problems.[8]

In December 2008, Socks was reported to be in failing health, apparently suffering from cancer.[9]

Socks was euthanized on February 20, 2009, in Hollywood, Maryland,[10] after suffering cancer of the jaw.[4]


Representative Dan Burton, then the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, once publicly questioned the use of White House staff, postage, and stationery to answer mail addressed to the cat.[11]

Cultural referencesEdit

First Lady Hillary Clinton carried a Socks-shaped minaudière to the 1996 Inaugural Ball. It was designed by Judith Leiber, a designer famous for her whimsically shaped, rhinestone-encrusted evening bags. The bag is currently on display at the Amsterdam Museum of Bags and Purses.[12]

Hillary Clinton wrote a children's book called Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets in 1998.[13] It included more than 50 letters written to the First Pets by children and more than 80 photographs of Socks and Buddy.

A cartoon book called Socks Goes to Washington: The Diary of America's First Cat, written by Michael O'Donoghue and Jean-Claude Suares, was published in 1993.[14]

Socks Goes to the White House – A Cats-eye view of the President's house, written by Kenneth T. Blackshaw with illustrations by Mary Beth Burns was published in 1993.

Socks was a character in If..., Steve Bell's cartoon strip in The Guardian, where he was described as the "world's most powerful cat," and as "Chief of Staff for Fish".

Socks was featured prominently in an episode of the sitcom Murphy Brown in December 1993 entitled "Sox and the Single Girl," in which Socks is inadvertently removed from the White House during a press dinner.[15] On the April 1, 1994, edition of Larry King Live, a Muppet version of Socks was a special guest interviewed by Kermit the Frog, who was guest hosting for Larry King at the time.[16]

In 1996, Socks appeared on a series of stamps in the Central African Republic with Bill Clinton.

On the 1994 Oscar Brand album I Love Cats, the song "Socks' Song" is dedicated to Socks.

In Berkeley Breathed's comic strip Outland, Socks was involved in a homosexual affair with Bill the Cat. They appeared together on a talk show, along with Checkers Nixon, Rex Reagan, and Millie Bush, on the topic of "Gay Presidential Pets."

The video clip for the song "Blister in the Sun" by the band Violent Femmes, used in the movie Grosse Pointe Blank, depicts an obsessive fan donning a Socks costume and attempting to assassinate Socks while he was speaking in public (Socks survives the incident unscathed while the would-be assassin is apprehended).

In an episode of Eek! The Cat, an attempt is made on Socks' life. Eek learns that the prospective killer is a deranged Checkers, the black and white Presidential dog, who still holds a grudge over being humiliated in Richard Nixon's famous 1952 Checkers speech and wishes to make all Presidential pets pay.

Socks was to be the subject of a canceled 1993 video game entitled Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill for the Super NES and Sega Genesis platforms.

In his announcement of the Next Generation Internet Initiative in 1996, Bill Clinton said, "When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the World Wide Web. Now even my cat has its own page."[17]

The women's clothing brand Soccx, produced by the German company Clinton Großhandels-GmbH, was named after Socks. The company's other brands, Camp David and Chelsea, are also references to the Clintons.[18]

A cartoon of Socks appeared in 2 Stupid Dogs in the episode "The Rise and Fall of Big Dog".


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "The White House for Kids". Archived from the original on April 20, 1999. Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  2. ^ "As Peace Process Fails, First Cat Prepares for Exile". The New York Times. January 10, 2001. Retrieved April 16, 2009.
  3. ^ Herring, Hubert B. "Betty Currie". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 19, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Craton, Susan (February 20, 2009). "Socks, former First Cat, dies". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  5. ^ Cellania, Miss. "The Nine Lives of Socks Clinton". Mental Floss. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  6. ^ "President Clinton Touts Economy While President-elect Bush Warns of Slowdown". January 12, 2001. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
  7. ^ "Former first dog Buddy killed by car". January 3, 2002. Archived from the original on July 5, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
  8. ^ "Socks still rocks", Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, June 6, 2008.
  9. ^ "Clinton's Socks the Cat Near Death", U.S. News, December 12, 2008.
  10. ^ "Socks, former Clinton cat, put to sleep". CNN. February 20, 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  11. ^ "Burton: A 'Pit Bull' in the Chair". The Washington Post. March 19, 1997. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  12. ^ "Evening bag 'Socks', Judith Leiber, USA, 1996". Museum of Bags and Purses. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018.
  13. ^ Clinton, Hillary, Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets, Simon & Schuster, 1998, ISBN 0-684-85778-2, ISBN 978-0-684-85778-7
  14. ^ O'Donoghue, Michael; Suarès, Jean-Claude (1993). Socks Goes to Washington: The Diary of America's First Cat. ISBN 1565660420.
  15. ^ "Murphy Brown": Sox and the Single Girl at
  16. ^ "Tough Pigs Anthology: April Frog's Day, April 2002: Part Six: Watch What You Do". Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  17. ^ "Internet Growth Statistics - Global Village Online". October 12, 2010. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  18. ^ "CAMP DAVID SOCCX - Das Wichtigsten auf einen Blick" (in German). August 10, 2018.

External linksEdit

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Misty Malarky Ying Yang
(Amy Carter's
Siamese cat)
White House pet cat
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Succeeded by
(George W. Bush's
Black cat)