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. hulo

    Well...I'm from India...and a Hindu too. And my Retriever's name is Mr. Bush.

    No similarity with any person, dead or alive.

    January 5, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    I never knew they even had a cat. Poor kitty– 18 years with George. That alone probably used up all of his 9 kitty lives.

    You know, with all these animals in the White House, I feel bad for the staff that has to clean up after them. Wonder who emptied the litter box??

    January 5, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. A. Ismael

    With all due respect to the president of the SUPERPOWER! :
    "Very human feeling of missing a " beloved first cat " VERY IMPRESSIVE !!!
    ESPECIALLY with a number of large scale WARS raging in the Middle East & elsewhere in which hundreds of people , MOSTLY CIVILIANS, lose their lives & thousands get mutilated & permanently disabled .
    NO LIES CAN COVER UP THE TRUTH !
    & Mr. President : Are you still wondering :
    :" I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY HATE US !" Really , this is HOW the whole world looks at the USA & perceives its attitude, policies & miscalculations as well as manipulations of the peoples of the world . No disrespect meant to the late Ms India .
    FELINE IS MORE VALUABLE THAN HUMAN LIVES !

    January 5, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. indy god

    That's one Bush down...

    January 5, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Henry

    I wonder if W Bush is also saddend by the hundreds of thousands that died under his rule.

    Henry, Netherlands.

    January 5, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    I like the story – I need a break from the wars and the economy. Everyone is human, and the death of family pet is heartbreaking – even to world leaders. Wow! An 18-year-old cat!

    January 5, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. A. Ismael

    Hopefully reviewing the comment I submitted DOES NOT lead to denying me the opportunity to express a frank opinion ...
    REMEMBER ... FREEDOM OF SPEECH !
    OR IS IT ONLY IF WHAT IS SAID IS COMPATIBLE WITH WHAT MR. BIG BROTHER LIKES !

    January 5, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. A. Ismael

    Hopefully reviewing the comment I submitted DOES NOT lead to denying me the opportunity to express a frank opinion ...
    REMEMBER ... FREEDOM OF SPEECH !
    OR IS IT FREEDOM ONLY IF WHAT IS BEING SAID IS IN LINE WITH WHAT MR. BIG BROTHER LIKES !

    January 5, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. Zod

    This quote is wrong:
    "Cats have no loyalty————- Nuf said !!!"
    My cat is very loyal and follows me all over the house. People who say cats aren't loyal never had a cat.

    January 5, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. 2012 please come soon

    For those of you calling this "fluff" and "who cares?"-how about the story and pictures of Obama's kids going to school. This is important news too???

    Actually, it is somewhat important as to Obama's campaign promises-the kids rode to school in a gas guzzling SUV. I thought Obama was going to save us from foreign oil dpeendency-yeah right.

    January 5, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. obama-mama

    I told George not to let the cat go to Afghanistan

    January 5, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Contrarian

    For all of you who feel the need to get in one last cheap shot at Bush by criticizing CNN for publishing the story of his kitty, did it bother you when the press spent time discussing what breed of dog Obama should get his daughters?

    January 5, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. as much as I dislike Bush

    it is very hurtful to have a pet die, my thought go to the first family

    January 5, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Ano?

    Rest in peace.

    January 5, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. Sue, Georgia

    Hello CNN, I feel sorry for the death of our first cat , but ,did you hear the news about Gaza???, Do you know at least 507 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli military operation, including about 100 women and children,In addition, 2,600 Palestinians have been injured, most of them civilians???, Do you know Israel is using phosphorous bomb against Palestinians???

    January 5, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. juan

    Poor guy, looses his cat, the so called war, people’s support, his brain…..wait, he didn’t have one when he arrived to the white house

    January 5, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. Maggie in NY

    "The Truth": "How dare that liberal media cover things that I have decided are not relevant"

    January 5, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Rafael Alfonso Caurimare

    Anyboby know if this cat left baby catties?

    January 5, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. Ariana

    i'm a liberal and i sympathize with the Bushes. May India rest in kitty heaven.

    January 5, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. Flabbergasted

    Let this stand as another reason that man should never have been president. He could not decide what to call a cat!!! He probably thought there were 3 of them. While I am a cat lover, if I were responsible for the deaths of thousands I think I would have mourned this loss in private. If I were an American and had lost a family member I would be pretty pissed off right now.

    January 5, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  21. the sad man

    Cats are all knowing, ever watchful.
    Never saying, always using.
    God bless the cat that graces a family.

    January 5, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Junaid

    oh... what a shame.. President Bush is not at all effected with hundreds of people dead in gaza... but at least he is saddend by his cats death, a human side of him.

    January 5, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Proud American

    Republicans stop whinning about this not being news. If your president did something I'm sure CNN would report it. The reason CNN report stories like this is because the sitting president of the U.S. is a..................You fill in the blank

    January 5, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. scott

    mr. wepps are you leaving the country?

    January 5, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. ANGIE

    who cares what about the men and woman who have dies in Iraq do you really think Bushie cares and were suppose to care about his cat dying give me a break!

    January 5, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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