January 5th, 2009
01:06 PM ET
6 years ago

'First Cat' dies

President Bush and an aide carry the First Cat and First Dog onto Air Force One, when both pets occupied the White House.
President Bush and an aide carry the First Cat and First Dog onto Air Force One, when both pets occupied the White House.

(CNN) – The White House announced Monday that the First Cat had passed on.

"The President, Mrs. Bush, Barbara, and Jenna are deeply saddened by the passing of their cat India ('Willie'),” said spokeswoman Sally McDonough.

“The 18 year-old female black American Shorthair died Sunday, January 4, 2009 at home at the White House. When Barbara was nine years old, she named India after the former Texas Ranger baseball player, Ruben Sierra, who was called 'El Indio.' When Barbara and Jenna moved away to college, India, affectionately called “Kitty” by the family, stayed at the White House with the President and Mrs. Bush. India was a beloved member of the Bush family for almost two decades. She will be greatly missed."

The cat’s name became in issue in 2001 after Hindu nationalists said the original moniker was an insult — and urged followers to call their dogs ‘George Bush.’

Update: The First Lady's office said the cat's name did not change as a result of the Indian protests; the Bush daughters had both named and nicknamed the cat before arriving in the White House.

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Mel Springfield, Oregon

    To The Truth,
    Your guy Obama had a story on his girls' first day of school. Tell me that doesn't compare with the cat story.

    January 5, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Gary H.

    I always love being told what "Liberals" think by people who have no idea what they are talking about.

    I am sorry about the loss of a pet. Thay are like part of the family and often leave a hole as big as the death of a human member. I am neither a cat lover or a fan of George W. but my sympathies in this case are heartfelt. To the nation both this and the school story are trivial to many but to others they show that if nothing else, our leaders past and present have living human problems also.

    January 5, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. Jim, Beverly Hills CA.

    Frankly I am sick of hearing about White house children and pets, over the years.

    I did not want to know about Caroline Kennedy's pony, or John John's toys.

    I did not want to hear how hard it was for the LBJ daughters to go out on dates.

    I did not care that one of the Ford boys invited Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger to lunch on the Truman Balcony.

    I did not want to know anything about Carter's crazy kin folk from Plains Ga.

    I did not want to know that Patty Davis hated her parents.

    On and on it goes. I guess the reason we suffer this is because we have no Buckingham Palace and No Queen to entertain us.

    January 5, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Alex

    The only member of the Bush family worth grieving...

    January 5, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Anthony B.

    Was the cat hunting with the VP?

    January 5, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. Max

    George is next

    January 5, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. fedlady81

    The first cat didn't get as much exposure as Barney and Mizz Beasley. I'll miss their antics, especially when Barney took a nip of that reporter!!

    January 5, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Cat on cellphone....."can you hear me meow"

    Har Har.........hope that made someone laugh.......smile......we need humor now more than ever!!!

    January 5, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. strong

    I am not a cat lover, and I am lukewarm on Bush ... but, pets are part of our families and when they die, we humans grieve nevertheless.

    This story is not the biggest story of the day, but it is still interesting.

    January 5, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. toby

    "I don't get why the name India was an insult."

    What is to "get"? Hysterical nationalists don't need a reason to get upset, just an excuse. That is how they are able to scream abuse at the USA from a pile of their own filth.

    And all those people who claim this isn't news: What would you prefer? A society where every item in the media is a fanatical, political rant that blames the ills of the world upon other members of the same society?

    God smiles on people who would rather read about pets than war, and nations who hold such people.

    January 5, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. *** ******* *********

    Condolences to the current 1st Family on the loss of their 'Kitty'. Nobody is all bad if they have a cat that has elected to live with them for over 18 years! We all know that cats can be VERY picky!!

    As for why this rates headlines...it doesn't I suppose, but the President always has...for good and bad it seems! The thing about this that makes it okay for me...it shows that the media is willing to mention humanitarian or feline news as well. And for me, as sad as it is to lose a beloved companion (feline, canine or human) at least it softened the news if even for a moment. We get more than enough of all the disastrous stuff...enough to throw all of North America into a giant migrane!! So, to pause for 'Kitty' is sad, but pleasant change.

    As for the soldiers...I agree...where is the mention of our soldiers who gave their lives...for I am not just sure what even yet...but they gave their lives because they promised they would. THAT deserves honorable mention. What is wrong with a small 'Died for Freedom' column? Not that hard considering what all you manage to get onto this site, I should imagine.

    May all who gave their lives rest in peace...and I pray that peace is what we gain from all this. Amen

    January 5, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. *** ******* *********

    Condolences to the current 1st Family on the loss of their 'Kitty'. Nobody is all bad if they have a cat that has elected to live with them for over 18 years! We all know that cats can be VERY picky!!

    As for why this rates headlines...it doesn't I suppose, but the President always has...for good and bad it seems! The thing about this that makes it okay for me...it shows that the media is willing to mention humanitarian or feline news as well. And for me, as sad as it is to lose a beloved companion (feline, canine or human) at least it softened the news if even for a moment. We get more than enough of all the disastrous stuff...enough to throw all of North America into a giant migraine!! So, to pause for 'Kitty' is sad, but a pleasant change.

    As for the soldiers...I agree...where is the mention of our soldiers who gave their lives...for I am not just sure what, even yet...but they gave their lives because they promised they would. THAT deserves honorable mention. What is wrong with a small 'Died for Freedom' column? Not that hard considering what all you manage to get onto this site, I should imagine.

    May all who gave their lives rest in peace...and I pray that peace is what we gain from all this. Amen

    January 5, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. Lynn in Africa

    Thanks CNN for a news respite featuring a normal life occurance–the death of a family pet instead of the constant diet of bombings, bad boys and blood that occur in our world daily. We can thank God for the news featuring the Obama school girls and India/Willie vs another market or home being blown up by terrorists.

    Condolences to George, Laura and the girls.

    January 5, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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