Socks the cat passed away this past Friday at the age of 19. Socks was top dog, so to speak, until the Clintons acquired Buddy. This article at Obit reveals how Socks brought change to the White House:
"Presidents, like leaders throughout history, have always had pets. In the old days, keeping animals in luxurious splendor — think of Mary, Queen of Scots and her pack of velvet-clad pugs — was a way for potentates to further elevate themselves above the people. In our modern, egalitarian democracy, by contrast, domestic animals let powerful politicians play everyman. Franklin Roosevelt may have been a wealthy patrician presiding over a depression-buffeted country, but when the president cuddled his beloved Fala, FDR seemed as if he could be your neighbor.
"For the purposes of political theater, though, either version of political-pet symbolism is easier with a dog than a cat: Dogs, after all, will sit still for both royal costuming and LBJ-style ear-swinging. Cats, as Socks’ photographic suitors learned, won’t sit for much of anything. Thus while a few presidents have kept cats around, according to the Williamsburg, Va., Presidential Pets Museum, they’d always played second-fiddle to the first family’s other animals. Until Socks came along."