Socks drew the short straw

Cat expert says Clintons didn't help pets get along.

Pop Culture

January 28, 2001|By Sandra Crockett

So Socks finally got the boot.

Senator and Mr. Clinton have decided the former first cat will no longer be a part of their former first family. So while Bill, Hillary and chocolate Labrador Buddy are off to start their new lives in New York (and Washington and Arkansas), Socks has been farmed out to Virginia to live with the former president's former White House secretary, Betty Currie.

It's kind of a shame, says cat expert Helen F. Rogers, because cats have feelings, too. "I think you should really think hard about bringing an animal in your home," says Rogers, a volunteer for Baltimore County's Humane Society. "An animal is a lifelong commitment."

Or should be, she seems to be telling the former commander in chief and his wife.

Then again, perhaps they have done the right thing. "If the Clintons no longer want Socks, maybe he is better off with someone who does want him," Rogers says. (And of course, it's not the first time Currie has done her boss a big favor.)

The Clintons have often said that Socks, who moved with the Clintons to the White House, and Buddy, who later joined them there, never did get along. (The ex-president's spokespersons made jokes about Middle East peace being easier to achieve.) But Rogers says dogs and cats can peacefully co-exist.

"We recommend you keep a dog on the leash and have an area for the cat that a dog can not get to," Rogers says. "You can use a child barrier." In other words, especially when they are introduced, a dog and cat need total supervision or to be separated, she says. "Normally it takes about a month," Rogers says. By that time, their owners should see that the two have become used to living together.

It usually takes some effort to have the two live together, because each follows its own instincts. "A cat's instinct is to run and a dog's instinct is to chase," Rogers says.

As for humans, dog and cat lovers can peacefully coexist too, she says. "Anybody who can love animals can love both."

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