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On Becoming a Bi-Petual White House

By Allia Zobel Nolan

Dear First Lady Dr. Jill Biden:

I came out of the womb with one word on my lips: “Kitty!” and thus began my life-long obsession with the four-legged fur-meister known as the “cat.”

Yes, I admit it. I’m a woman who loves cats too much, (is that possible?), which segues me into why I’m writing: to offer my con-cat-ulations on the adoption of your new daughter, the understatedly ravishing First Feline, Willow — up from the farm and ready to serve.

Then, too, I must also applaud you for your decision to make the White House and the First Family bi-petual. It’s absolutely paw-some.

Indeed, putting a puddie in the White House will not only save you time (cats are low maintenance, no-walk, no-bark animals), and money (low upkeep costs that will not affect the national debt), but also help you create a calmer, purr more, hiss less administration.

Now, since there hasn’t been a First Feline in the White House for a decade, and since you probably are more familiar with that other companion pet — the kind (similar to Commander) that chews shoes and chases its tail — I’m taking the opportunity to point out some feline attributes you may not be familiar with. As a dedicated ailurophile, I felt it my duty to arm you with the salient cat facts to satisfy a pesky press which may raise questions such as “Why Willow?” “Why now?” “Why a bi-petual White House anyway?”

Yes, I do (reluctantly) have to agree that both Commander and Willow have their individual strong points. It’s just that Willow has more of them. Indeed, not only is she the superior animal overall, she is the superior animal for the job, i.e. a respected position at the White House. Here’s why:

For starters, cats are peace-loving. They do not use aggression to get their point across. They don’t believe in macho shows of bravado.  Nor would they ever bark loudly, bare their teeth, or bite anyone (especially a reporter) who tries to pet them.

Cats are discerning in their allegiance. And while, granted, Commander and his ilk may be noted for loyalty, the difference is cats are judicious and focused. They’re not at the beck and call of any stranger who lobbies them, nor are they easily swayed by anything as barbaric as a pork belly.

Cats are independent thinkers. They do not live for approval. They are not influenced by the crowd. (This highly desirable characteristic has been touted by some reporters as being snooty and aloof, when in reality, it shows courage of conviction.)

Cats are savvy conservationists. They do not expend energy — especially their own — on trivialities such as fetching or shaking hands. What’s more, like Winston Churchill and other noted dignitaries, cats know the importance of naps.

Cats have sophisticated palates. They don’t believe more is better, and are not likely to secretly snatch canapes or other tasty nibbles you may be planning to serve esteemed guests. In fact, you may need to open up several cans of wet food to find the perfect one for Willow. If she tries to cover up (a/la her soiled kitty litter) dish after dish, don’t be discouraged. Sooner or later, you’ll find one she will eat. However, don’t stock up on this, as cats change their minds often when it comes to food. Oh, and Willow will probably prefer bone china dinnerware, (with or without the Presidential seal) as plastic gives many cats a chin rash.

Cats exude civility. They have extraordinary manners, are impeccably groomed, and make the best of impressions. They handle themselves admirably at state dinners and would never dream of rolling in the mud before meeting with a foreign official. 

Cats do not crave attention, except on their own terms. So don’t expect Willow to respond excitedly (if at all) when you call. Some reporters might brand her as unintelligent; however, like all good politicians, cats just know how to turn a convenient deaf ear when they’re not interested.

Cats are good at routing out vermin (should any try to break into the premises when Secret Service are not looking) — a talent perfect for a new administration.

Finally, though 91 percent of countries around the world prefer cats as their household pet of choice, in the United States, Mrs. Biden, unfortunately cats are the underdog. I’m counting on Willow and you to reverse all that.

Respectfully yours,
Allia Zobel Nolan

— Allia Zobel Nolan

Allia Zobel Nolan is a Norwalk, Connecticut, author of 150-plus titles. Her latest Why a Cat Is Still Better than a Man and The Worrywart’s Prayer Book are available wherever books are sold.

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