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. Ken in Dallas

    The Bush's cat died. Boo-hoo. Oh, incidentally, the Bush administration green-lighted the Gaza operation, making the American people responsible for covering for Israel...

    Never mind that, what's important is that the cat died, let's talk about that.

    January 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Anthony

    Must be a slow news day

    January 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. susie

    Why are democrats so insensitive all the time?

    January 5, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Julie

    Why are people so mean? Its not like the cat made the political decisions. Chill out people. If you think the article is pointless then why click it?

    January 5, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Brittany

    Where are all the Obama haters that bash CNN for telling news about the Obamas? Hmm? Where are you? Because if you want to bash CNN for reporting things that aren't news, you should be posting about this story.

    January 5, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Doz

    lol. the last part of this article is hilarious. I'd never heard about that before.

    January 5, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. jenbeee

    I didn't even know they HAD a cat, it seemed to be all Barney, all the time.

    January 5, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Once you vote Black

    Everything Bush touches turns to mush.

    January 5, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Breck

    Well, the Bushes have my sympathy on this one. Now if only George could show the same regret for all of the pointless deaths brought about by the Iraq War....

    January 5, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. Zar

    The name 'India' is an insult to Hindu nationalists?

    January 5, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. Bill

    People had a problem with the cat's name which was dubbed by a little girl? Like, really? I think India is a beautiful name. Aren't there more pressing issues in the world?

    January 5, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. Rebekkah

    Ditto to the "who cares?" up there. I can't even believe I actually READ this. I did skip over the Obama girl's first day at school article. So very intrusive and borderline obscene.

    I wonder what type of person not only reads – but actually enjoys – articles such as these.

    Fine. You got me this time.

    I expect better than this from CNN.

    January 5, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. amy in the south

    For those of you who don't care, etc., you took the time to read the article and then to comment on it!

    January 5, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. Jeff

    Anyone that has had a pet die knows how the family feels, we love our pets

    January 5, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Anonymous

    I am sorry for the Bush family. The fact that they had a black cat made me not quite as hostile towards the ol' guy. It's horrible to lose a pet.

    January 5, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Shirley Virginia

    Ed, Santa Fe, NM How cruel can you be? I am not a Bush supporter, but I care. Pets are very precious to most people. That is, people who have a heart. Apparently you don't. My sympathy to the Bushes. I have an 18 year old cat. I know they truly must be very sad.

    January 5, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. spock

    Unbelievable they had to change its name I hate political correctness!
    Rest in peace India.

    January 5, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. chris

    So why did they change the cat's name – Because a group of people were insulted – come on - It is time to stop this "I'm insulted" or the "it may offend somebody" – Name your pet, your children, whatever what YOU want it to be and don't worry about the others. We American's have forgotten how to take care of ourselves because we are TOO worried about who might be offended. Please.....

    January 5, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. Viorel

    Wrong animal! Death cannot strike an accurate blow anymore.

    January 5, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Have these Bush morons been "deeply saddened" by the tens of thousands of innocent people they've killed in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    January 5, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Poor Guy

    Rumor has it the cat committed suicide, the cat's suicide note and the attempted cover up of it, will be published in some expose book written by a former white house insider in 2010.

    January 5, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Jen

    Oh Wow!! This is news worthy?/

    January 5, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. Paul from Phoenix

    A lot of money was paid to a pillar of higher learning to teach journalism to the editor of this page. Well done! Money well spent! Who says our schools don't teach students properly. Without our thorough educational system, we would never see such important stories like the Obama girls's first day in school, or updates on the first pets, or what Mrs. Obama will wear to the balls.

    Go journalism, and go public education!

    January 5, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Cam

    I agree with Eric. Obama has done nothing yet. He's idolized by millions of people who don't even know what he stands for.

    January 5, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. cal

    I'm sorry to hear about the cat they really do become a part of the family, and this guy has been around a long time. Since there was a cat in the white house, I hope it's throughly clean of the cat hairs since one of the Obama girls has allergies.

    January 5, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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