How Many Pets Did JFK Have?

One of the most famous presidents of all time, John F. Kennedy, is known for being the first Catholic to hold the highest office in the United States, as well as for his untimely death by assassination in 1963 (via Biography). But did you know that back in the day, JFK was also known for his collection of pets (via White House History)?

Many U.S. presidents have owned pets over the years. As far back as John Quincy Adams, the First Family was keeping animals inside the White House. In Adams' case, that meant silkworms (via National Geographic). Other notable pets over the years have included snakes, badgers, raccoons, and opossums. Unlike today's animals, these pets weren't always merely ornamental: during World War I, Woodrow Wilson reportedly brought sheep on board the household staff as inexpensive lawnmowers!

But though many Presidents kept pets over the years, few rivaled the Kennedys in either the size or variety of their menageries.

JFK's family kept many pets

When JFK and his family first moved into the White House in 1961, they brought four pets with them. Among these pets included their cat, Tom Kitten; their canary, Robin; and their hamsters, Debbie and Billie (via The White House Historical Association). But over the years, the household would accumulate many more pets, including some gifted to the family by foreign dignitaries.

Mrs. Kennedy came to own two horses, a Palomino named Rufus and an Arabian horse named Sardar, according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Other pets, officially owned by Caroline and John Jr., included horses Tex, Macaroni, and Leprechaun; parakeets Bluebell and Maybelle; Zsa Zsa the rabbit; and dogs Charlie, Pushinka, Clipper, Shannon, and Wolf. They also had several puppies, the result of a union between Pushinka and Charlie, which lived at the home until they were two months old. Afterward, they were given away to family friends as well as to children in the Midwest. In total, that means the Kennedys owned 17 pets while they lived in the White House.