Baltimore Socks, the White House cat during the Clinton administration who waged war on Buddy the pup, has died. He was around 18.
Socks had lived with Bill Clinton’s secretary, Betty Currie, in Hollywood, Md., since the Clintons left the White House in early 2001.
Currie confirmed Socks’ death Friday evening and said she was “heartbroken.” She did not give details, referring calls to the Clinton Foundation office.
The foundation released a statement from the Clintons:
“Socks brought much happiness to Chelsea and us over the years, and enjoyment to kids and cat lovers everywhere. 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.”
Socks had reached his late teens — an advanced age for a cat — when reports surfaced in late 2008 that he had cancer and Currie had ruled out invasive efforts to prolong his life.
“It’s not a happy prognosis,” presidential historian Barry Landau, a friend of Currie’s, said at the time.
Socks was what feline-lovers call a tuxedo cat — mostly black with white down the front and belly and on his feet. He had markings that looked a bit like a mustache and goatee.
Chelsea Clinton’s pet first appeared in the news in November 1992 after then-Gov. Bill Clinton won the presidency and the family was still in the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, Ark. Socks became an early symbol of privacy-vs.-media in the Clinton era when photographers got a little aggressive as he took a stroll outside.
Things took a turn for the worse in late 1997, when then-puppy Buddy, a chocolate retriever, arrived. Relations between Socks and Buddy were cool from the beginning.
A few weeks later, in early 1998, the two pets had an encounter on the South Lawn. “A very agitated Buddy approached the cat and began barking as the president restrained him with a green leash,” The Associated Press reported.