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. John in VA

    Aww poor kitty. Jenna must be heartbroken.

    January 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. xcusme

    AND....

    January 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. LORI

    While I am not exactly a Bush fan my heart goes out to the family. I lost a cat myself October 11th of this past year. It can be very very difficult. My prayers are with all of them. May God bless them

    January 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Why?

    This shouldn't be a headline. And neither should the Obama girls' first day of school. Best wishes to the Obama family and my condolences to the Bush family.

    January 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. Steph

    Thank you Shari, NY!

    January 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. S Callahan

    :-) I say no more...Shari, NY said it all

    January 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. LaurenLove

    Ha, Hindu Nationalists got pissed off at the name, cant even name a cat anymore without someone getting "offended". I'd be alright if people wanted to call their dogs george bush, doesnt offend me.

    January 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. Helen

    My sympathy to the Bushes on the loss of their cat. As an animal lover myself I know how it feels to lose a pet. They are a part of the family.

    January 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Mike

    Let the Liberals come out of the woodwork now and say how this is of no importance but the Obama girls going to school should be plastered on every news channel because the fate of the world rides on when they go to school, what they're wearing, who takes them, where they go to school, and just about everything else.

    How about this, report on the things that matter and leave the fluff to the tabloids.

    January 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. KC

    Wow, mean spirited people on this site. Sad. Life is too short and getting too difficult to be "ugly" about everything.

    January 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Snooper

    Writer should have added,

    Willie was fond of Mice and Tom Cats. She spent hours basking in a sunbeam and hunting for varmits in the Kitchen. She'll always be remembered for her great sense of smell and her love of cat nip.

    Memorial offerings may be sent to _______

    January 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. grahame

    Sorry about the cat.
    Still it should be considered that if you were a bad person in this life you just might come back as a pet of the Bush household. The entire animal kingdom will now run for cover, scared that they may be in line for the replacement

    January 5, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Keith

    Bush had a cat?

    January 5, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Todd Ackerman

    On what planet is this considered news?

    The outgoing President's CAT died?

    Really?

    Really?!?

    January 5, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. laura

    The effort that people have taken to post insensitive comments is astonishing. You took the effort to read the article; the headline was not misleading. Complaining about its lack of importance after choosing to read it is ridiculous.

    I believe GWB to be one of our worst presidents in the history of this great nation. However, that is simply job performance. There is no reason to be ignorant toward another human being at a very human time.

    January 5, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Eric

    Hey all you liberals, here's your chance to bash Bush once more.

    I don't know how you're going to release all your hate once Bush is no longer President and the House and Senate are controlled by the dems.

    We'll see how well Barry does as President. I bet he'll be another "Jimmy Carter."

    January 5, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Spencer

    Sheesh people, why so much cynicism?? It's a terrible loss for anyone to lose a pet, especially one who has been part of their lives for 18 years. Show some respect or show some discretion and keep the barbs to yourselves.

    January 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Beverly Williams

    R.I.P Willie
    My condolences on the loss of your witch kitty.

    January 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. PatNY

    As a cat owner [two cats, one 8, one 7], I can say, 18 years was a good run for the Bush's Cat. While I am no fan of Bush, I can empathize with them, and can only hope that the cat had a great life while in the White House. Its also very possible that the cat would have had a very difficult time transitioning into a new home after living for so long at the White House, and given its age, the added stress would probably have killed it. So, its what's meant to be.

    RIP Willie!

    PS – oh please! I would never have changed my cat's name because of some overly PC nonsense!

    January 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. JD

    Everyone feels a sense of loss when they lose a pet, Sure the article didn't need to be posted as its a fairly insignifiant thing in the "world news".

    Seriously, some off the posts are pretty sickening to see societys Empathy, or lack there of.

    January 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. Adreanna

    @Shari, NY, you took the words right off of my pen, I was going to write pretty much the same thing! High five!

    January 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. CanIcallyouJoe

    How about covering the two wars we are supposedly winning?

    January 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. Young voter

    Shari: This is a death, not a "first day" or something.

    January 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. Jessika in Montana

    Regardless of my opinion of the Bush administration…and as an owner of an 18 year old cat myself, they do have my sympathy.

    January 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. Steve in Philly

    They changed the cat's name to Willie so Hindus wouldn't name their dogs "George Bush."

    I consider this a direct insult to my willie but I'm not going to re-name it George Bush.

    January 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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