The amount and variety of pets at Theodore Roosevelt's White House are legendary. Descriptions and anecdotes of some of the Roosevelt family's more unusual pets may be found in many places. Still, some of the most enjoyable descriptions are included in TR's letters, such as this incident recorded in a letter to his son Kermit on January 8, 1903. In this passage, Roosevelt related the antics of Tom Quartz, the family’s rambunctious kitten.
Detail, Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Kermit Roosevelt, January 8, 1903, MS Am 1541 (45), Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.
“Tom Quartz is certainly the cunningest kitten I have ever seen. He is always playing pranks on Jack and I get very nervous lest Jack should grow too irritated. The other evening they were both in the library – Jack sleeping before the fire – Tom Quartz scampering about, an exceedingly playful little wild creature, which is about what he is. He would race across the floor and then jump upon the curtains or play with the tassels. Suddenly he spied Jack and galloped up to him. Jack, looking exceedingly sullen and shame-faced, jumped out of the way and got upon the sofa, where Tom Quartz instantly jumped upon him again. Jack suddenly shifted to the other sofa where Tom Quartz again went after him. Then Jack started for the door, while Tom made a rapid turn under the sofa and around the table and just as Jack reached the door leaped on his hind quarters. Jack bounded forward and away and the two went tandem out of the room – Jack not reappearing at all; and after about five minutes Tom Quartz stalked solemnly back.
Another evening the next Speaker of the House, Mr. Cannon, an exceedingly solemn, elderly gentleman with chin whiskers, who certainly does not look to be of playful nature, came to call upon me. He is a great friend of mine and we sat talking over what our policies for the session should be until about eleven o’clock; and when he went I accompanied him to the head of the stairs. He had gone about half way down when Tom Quartz strolled by, his tail erect and very fluffy. He spied Mr. Cannon going down the stairs, jumped to the conclusion that he was a playmate escaping, and raced after him, suddenly grasping him by the leg the way he does Archie and Quentin when they play hide and seek with him; then loosening his hold he tore down the stairs ahead of Mr. Cannon, who eyed him with iron calm and not one particle of surprise.”