February 20, 2009

Former first cat Socks dead at 20

Socks, a former stray cat who made it to the White House, died Friday at the age of 20, former President Bill and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

The ex-first feline, who lived with the Clinton family at the governor's mansion in Arkansas before moving with the Clintons to the White House, had been battling throat cancer since November and couldn't stand up anymore. After he stopped eating, he was euthanized in Maryland Friday morning.

Socks brought much happiness to Chelsea and us over the years, and enjoyment to kids and cat lovers everywhere, the Clintons said in a statement to People.com. We're grateful for those memories, and we especially want to thank our good friend, Betty Currie, for taking such loving care of Socks for so many years.

Currie, the president's former personal secretary, and her husband, Bob, adopted Socks after the Clintons departed the White House.

The truth be known, Betty asked if Socks could come live with her. The Clintons didn't abandon Socks. They were totally conflicted. It broke their hearts, but they knew it would be the right thing for Socks's welfare, family friend and presidential historian Barry Landau told People.com. Betty had lost a close family member and a dog and they wanted to do something nice for her.