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Ticket Replay: Socks Clinton dies; former First Cat known for sleeping was 20, give or take

December 27, 2009 |  4:04 pm

Socks Clinton addresses the press at the White House podium during healthier days

As the holidays unfold, The Ticket's thoughts turn to some time off. So we're re-publishing some of our favorite or most-read items from 2009. This item originally appeared on Feb. 20.

Word tonight that Socks Clinton, the one-time Arkansas stray adopted by the Clintons who rose to international prominence and literary fame as sole feline inhabitant of the White House, died today.

Throat cancer and a euthanasia shot were given as the cause. The cat who lived a Horatio Alger life was believed to be about 20.

Upon leaving the executive residence in Washington, the Clinton family gave the cat to the president's secretary, Betty Currie, who had recently lost her own pet.

Socks relinquished the public spotlight in 2001 due to term limits and spent his retirement living in Maryland where he expected regular home cooking and was particularly fond of chicken.

Socks had become attached to Currie during his White House terms, residing most hours on a blue striped chair next to her desk outside the Oval Office, which he allowed the president to use.

Though reticent in public, Socks was known as an affectionate creature, even tolerating the First Dog, a brown Labrador named Buddy, who was killed in a 2002 collision with a car near the Clintons' suburban New York home.

In an actual statement released Friday the Clintons said: "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."

Though he was not much of a reader, Socks became internationally famous after a book was written about him -- "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets." It was a collection of mail he had received though, truth be told, he expressed no particular interest in any of it.

Some foreign leaders were said to have even requested to have their photo taken with the First Kitty, which he tolerated because he favored diplomacy over militancy. At the end Socks was reported unwilling to eat and unable to stand. He had a last walk outdoors Thursday in Currie's arms.

No memorial plans were announced. A private cremation was planned. Survivors are unknown but presumed plentiful.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Marcy Nighswander / Associated Press

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