January 5th, 2009
01:06 PM ET
5 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. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Who cares? I do. You don't care? So?
    IS this newsworthy? Given news is how 24/7, yes, this is newsworthy. Space needs to be filled and it's much better than another Britney Spears story.
    18 years is very old for a cat. Hopefully the poor kitty went fast.

    January 5, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Redneck

    Let me guess, Dick Cheney was in the White house hunting, wait, he misses the game he intends to shoot and hits humans instead. Bout time he got his aim down straight!

    January 5, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. travis

    Haha, call a dog George Bush????? Dogs deserve way better then that.

    January 5, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Mrbob_58

    My condolences to the First Family. I know the pain in loosing a long time family pet. One question: Will it be a state funeral?

    January 5, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Franky

    "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."

    Are you kidding me?? You have Mexicans calling their dogs "Pedro" or "Rodrigo" for crying out loud, LOL!! We Mexicans don't really got cutes names like buddy for example that one of my niece's have, we come up with these crazy names for crying out loud, LOL!!

    January 5, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Whatever..

    Maybe Mr Bush should stuff it!! The cat that is.

    January 5, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. Obamacratic

    Wow! The cat dies and get total coverage and all those people that died in New Orleans got what?....not even a cup of water! Wow!

    January 5, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. travis

    What is wrong with u people, pets are like family, so stop making fun, or saying "it's just a cat, for most people, pets are part of the family, show some respect.

    January 5, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Al-Andulusian

    Perhaps he knew too much.... like Mike Connelly.

    January 5, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Jackie in Dallas

    Why the vitriol, people? No, this isn't big news - neither is the first day of school for Sasha and Malia - but both stories make our leaders into real people. Politically, I despise President Bush, but as cat staff for two cats currently, and who just recently lost a third one this summer, I feel sadness for the Bush family. We have to stop demonizing people we disagree with. We have to remember that our Presidents, our Governers, our politicians at any level, our sports legends, our entertainers, are all real people with real feelings, real failings, and real heartaches in their lives. So, while I can disagree violently with what President Bush has done in office, I can still sympathize with George, Laura, and their girls on the death of a beloved pet.

    January 5, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. TJay

    My condolences to the Bush family. We lost our family pet, right before the new year.

    As for reporting this story.....DUH....that's why it's called "news" - stop hating on one another, and think of how blessed we are to enjoy all the freedoms that we have in this country. Admit it, we are very blessed - whether or not you liked the current or like the future president.

    January 5, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Amy

    Cheney did it.

    January 5, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. WEPPS

    My condolences to the cat family, will the Bush family leave office sooner!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. DA

    Sorry to hear the Royal Cat has died, but, how many have died in Gaza today, or in Irak yesterday, or in Afganistan the day before? They were humans caught up in a nasty conflict. Their names should make the news, one by one as well as the names of their parents/children. What a pity that the death of a cat is worth so much more ink than the death of a person.

    January 5, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Phoebe

    Anyone who loves pets knows what a heartbreaking loss it is when one dies. George Bush was an animal lover, and my condolences go out to him and his family. They can take comfort in the fact that India lived a full, happy life with them.

    January 5, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. Lena Earl

    I lost a cat this past summer that I had for 8 years. I was devastated for a few days, and had a long mourning period. Some do not realize how pets are an important part of our families. I still cry at times.
    I extend my sympathies to the Bush home . Loss is loss, no matter whether it was "just a cat". I loved my cat and I bet they loved theirs. God Bless.

    January 5, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Wenton Chan

    Do you lefties honestly, honestly, for the next 4 years think an Obama administration won't produce fluff stories as well?

    January 5, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. doris

    Our family cat when I was at home and single lived to be 18. I still remember him and his sweet ways . That was over 50 years ago and a pet can bring great pleasure to a home. Please don`t begrudge the Bush`s their sorrow over the cat.

    January 5, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Lori In DFW, Texas

    For those of you who want to know who cares about a dead pet cat, your answer is, I DO. For the loss of their kitty, I send my condolences.

    For the loss of our country's children in an illegal and nonsensical war in Iraq, the loss of our reputation on the world stage, and the loss of our economic stability, I am still waiting for the Bush family to offer their condolences to America. I think all we're going to get is a "whoops, I messed up" from Dubya.

    Too bad their finger-biting, snapping little black dog wasn't the one to meet his maker.

    January 5, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. The Truth

    really? a story about the President's Pet ? When the national debt is increasing and when we have a president who plans to come into the white house and add 1.8 trillion to that debt within a year, which will in fact be the largest increase... EVER! how can this be even a relevant story? how pathetic is the liberal media when they choose to, instead of covering what's going on in washington and with the plans of the transition team, they cover the death of a pet? this sickens me, and it should sicken the nation.

    January 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Island girl

    max (NY) January 5th, 2009 1:25 pm ET

    Let us know when the first roach or bug dies too please.
    _________________________

    Unbelievable!! I nearly posted the same thing but changed my mind.

    January 5, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Bell

    I'm so sorry to hear that. I trust cats more than people.

    January 5, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Bell

    Please pratice saying something nice or not saying anything at all.

    January 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Rubin

    It's "funny" that when Bush's cat dies of old age and natural causes, CNN puts this in it's headline news section. Yet our brave service men and women who are defending this country are getting killed violently, and unnaturally, everyday in Afghanistan and Iraq... yet very rarely even a mention about them anymore in your news these days. You used to have a listing, in your headline news section, where you printed the name and photo of EVERY service man and woman who was killed in action in Iraq, but I can't seem to find this section anymore. What happened?

    January 5, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. Heidi

    My condolences and sympathy to the Bush family over the loss of their beloved pet !!!

    January 5, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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