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. obama-mama

    I told George not to let the cat go to Afghanistan

    January 5, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Susan

    It hurts to lose a believed family pet. I empathize deeply with the first family. Pets have an important place in our lives. They are completely innocent and give love freely. God bless to the Bush family.

    January 5, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. ARB

    AND THIS IS NEWS BECAUSE.............?

    January 5, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. slowbutspeeding

    Regardless of whether or not we believe this to be news worthy (I, personally, do not), the media decided that this story was important/interesting enough to grab our attention. How sad that celebrities – political and otherwise – should feel compelled to announce the death of a family member.

    Political beliefs aside, losing a beloved family pet – especially one who has been part of the family for so many years – must be very painful for the First Family. My sympathies and condolences to all those who shared a part of their lives with this pet.

    January 5, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Lyndon from CA

    R.I.P

    January 5, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. New Mexican

    So sorry at the loss of your pet.

    January 5, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Emily

    No matter w hat I think of the person, I know how awful it feels to
    loose a pet, especially after 18 years. Leave them alone. grief is
    grief no matter who is feeling it.

    January 5, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. Marc

    Some people are such morons. Not every story has to be earth shattering. Grow up you immature imbeciles.

    Sympathies to the Bush family. It's hard to lose a pet you've had for so long.

    January 5, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Flex

    The Bush Klan are the worst humans next to right wing religious bigots. However, my heart goes out to their animals.

    January 5, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Gloria - Minnesota

    I have had many kittens and cats during my life, so I know how it feels to lose a beloved pet! My sympathy to the Bush family!

    January 5, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. Samuel

    At least the cat died at home not in Iraq. Most likely the cat died in comfort and in dignity.

    I cannot believe George Bush was elected twice by Americans. Two times? It should not had happened.

    January 5, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. Mari

    My sympathies to the family. It's never easy to lose a pet. I can't imagine having had one for 18 years. RIP Willie.

    And IMO this is more of a news story than the Obama girls going to school. They are going to school again tomorrow, my kid too, big whoopie doopie.

    January 5, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. VALUES

    Slow day at CNN with this reporting. Not really much to talk about.

    January 5, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. BS not Maverick

    It is always sad when our pets die.

    January 5, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. Michelle

    Oh my! the Obama girls are starting a new school and bush's pet dies! The world must be ending soon.

    Does one need to anouce the pet death to the world? Nope
    What about the other few thousand kids that move and change schools?

    These are both life things.... they happen, lets move onto something important

    January 5, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. chris

    hindu nationalists really had a problem with the cat being named "india"? what a JOKE!! just goes to show the ignorance in the world!!

    January 5, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Dallas, TX

    Hey, we had to read about the Obama's future dog, so why not the cat of an actual sitting President!

    Double standards...as usual.

    January 5, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Alan

    Sorry to hear. It's never easy losing a pet. I can't wait to see G.W. leave Washington and never return - but I wish he had been able to take is cat with him.

    January 5, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. Barack wins and America loses

    Very sad. This great President has kept us safe, and has been treated too harshly. I don't agree with his liberal democrat way of spending too much of our money, but I do think history will be kind to him for keeping us safe for 8 years and allowing democracry to have a stronghold in the Middle East. Many decades from now, they will be thanking this President for liberating Iraq from a dictator.

    Sorry to hear about the Presiden'ts cat.

    January 5, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Carl in CT

    My deepest sympathies to the First Family... as someone blessed with an almost 20-year-old cat I know how much a part of your life they can become.

    I may not agree with them poitically but cats transcend everything else.

    January 5, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. Rufus Johnson

    I'm so sorry to hear this. Losing a pet is a difficult thing especially when its been in the family that long.

    January 5, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. Bob

    I say we rename India, "POOP", since that's what it smells like there.

    January 5, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Jon

    Shari, NY,

    What's your point? Neither this story nor the Obama girls' story are issues.

    January 5, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. sham-WOW!

    I feel so bad for the family. My cat is almost 16 years old and she is the love of my life. This loss will be hard for the family, but I'm sure that India (or whatever name is most PC) will never be forgotten. My best wishes go to GW, his wife and daughters.

    January 5, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. Rolling in the Aisles, VA

    Check Cheney for powder burns.

    January 5, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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