January 5th, 2009
01:06 PM ET
9 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. Katy

    My heartfelt condolences to the Bush family for their loss.

    Losing a loved pet is very difficult.

    (I did not vote for George Bush).

    January 5, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Anthony

    Really, people. This is about a family that has lost a pet they have loved for 18 years. They have my sympathy for that.

    January 5, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. carolflowery

    I have 2 cats, i love them so, I know it's a sad day anytime you lose a pet, they are family members, and hey by the way, some of you chronic misguided "the one" followers give a break every now and then, Europe is already seeing through your empty suit, enjoy inaugaration day, cause after that, all gloves come off.

    January 5, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Willi was my favorite Bush.

    January 5, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Mike

    Sorry to hear this, i love cats too, but 18 years is quite old for a cat. But the naming thing boggles the mind! Can't a president do ANYTHING without someone complaining? I hope Obama won't be intimidated by such ludicrous demands!

    January 5, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. brenda

    This is not only a tragedy; it's indeed a calamity for the entire humanity! Bush's cat dies, oh no! I am sure this will add to the sorrow that engulfs the widows and orphans of the Iraq war (both American and Iraqis). Also, I am not sure how Africa with all of its miseries will handle the Bush's sad news!
    If you are unable, or unwilling, to love a pet then you are surely not able to love your fellow man. "The human heart is capable of loving all things but is weak indeed when it loves only some things" (Barbara Long).

    January 5, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. kat russell

    Willi was my favorite member of the Bush clan.

    January 5, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. AKC

    I think that Bush is the worst President in the history of this nation, but I do believe that his only redeeming quaility is that he loves his pets. I am sorry to hear they have lost their cat. I had to bury my Mom's cat of 11 years 2 days before Christmas and she is still having a hard time with the loss. I hope their 2 dogs can help fill the void and I encourage them to visit their local animal shelter when they get to Texas and select a new cat for their new home.

    January 5, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. lovable liberal

    I would never call a beloved pet dog anything that would remind me of George W. Bush.

    January 5, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Yolanda

    This story is about a cat. How did this turn inot another racist issue?
    America is fixated on race. And ERIC you really should get a life. Your comment is really condescending and darn right stupid. The republicans were in charge of the senate first and look at the econonmy. The dem. just got control the past two years. That's right you listen to Blovo Rush and scream fest Hannity for your warped news. You are forgiven. Stupid id as stupid does.

    January 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. James


    Animal lovers care

    January 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. johnny c

    Wow! hindu nationalist getting upset over a nine year old girl in america naming her cat india and then of course blaming it on the President. We Americans should really be more careful when we name are pets dont ya think?

    January 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. max

    Once again, even if you are not an animal lover, surely you can understand the pain that comes with a loss. The Bush family is in transition which makes them more fragile. We athe people need to try to show kindness and understanding in all situations. There is an old song or saying that goes something like this...walk a mile in my shoes before you accuse...

    January 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Paul C.

    Even though I'm glad Bush is leaving I am sorry for his family about the loss of their cat. We're all Americans and those of us who have pets can understand no matter what you think of the president or his politics. Love for an pet and losing that pet doesn't discriminate. As the proud owner of two cats, 17 & 12 I can say that I cherish every moment with them now that they're getting older and will be devastated when my oldest goes. So have a heart people and leave the political crap out of this and remember them in your prayers.

    January 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Blerinda

    While a death of a pet in the family and first day to school of child are events that leave their "footprints" in our personal life, it makes me wonder what sort of "footprints" the death of that cat in the White House and the first day to a new school (private one among others) of the children of the newly elected president, could possibly leave behind for a nation! For weeks we have been inundated with news about potential dog selection, hairy dog, hairless dog, this school that school! What about those children in America who live under the poverty line, that attend school insuficiently funded, and who sooner or later will joined the ranks of the troubled youth groups on the streets. Sad the extinction of many endagered species does not receive half of the attention, or the life of those who may never be able to sit at the school desks around the world! This sort of news reporting is shameful and disgraceful. Thank God that BBC still delivers some solid news!

    January 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. brenda

    PA Law,
    For all those that still don't get it….it's not Obama. It's his message! He's reminded all of us that we can hope and dream again.
    I am sorry that you had to wait for someone like Obama to come along to show you that you can now hope and dream again. I am sorry that you didnt have what it takes to seek out hope on your own, to dream on your own, to be enlightened and inspired by family, friends, religious leaders, teachers, neighbors, other leaders and on and on. When did you stop hoping? ANd whose fault was that? When did you stop dreaming and whose fault was that? There is no one to blame but yourself. You chose to stop "being" and saying that Obama offers you the chance to hope and dream again is like saying that you wouldnt even be human if it werent for him. I think that you think the second coming is here but I got news for you...you will have to keep waiting.

    January 5, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Katie

    My condolences. I am an animal lover, and I can understand how sad it is to loved a beloved pet. They truly become members of the family. Willie had a great long life, and now he is in Cat Heaven chasing squirrels and mice and what have you.

    January 5, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. republicans hate america

    Joseph I promise you I would have done a much better job then Bush did had I been in the White House. I did do my part I never voted for that loser and I begged everyone in 1999 to do the same because this maniac would get us into a war!! what I got was a bunch of nonsense joking that he would return integrity to the white house and end all the sexual scandals. boy did it turn out even worse then anyone had joke about.

    January 5, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. james

    Cats have no loyalty----- Nuf said !!!

    January 5, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Mari

    EVEN though I am disgusted with ........Bush......... the ONE thing I liked about him was his love of animals.

    My condolences to the Bush family for the loss of their beloved, Kitty.

    And yeah....... to ALL the far-right-folks who CANNOT say ONE nice thing about OBAMA and his Family, shame on you! You call yourselves Christians, but do not act like one!

    January 5, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. DriveAMclaren

    CNN reports when Bush's cat dies on the front page. I wish they would demonstrate the same zest in reporting the deaths caused by Israel on the civilians of Palestine.

    January 5, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Maybe the cat would have lived, if Bush paid more time to feeding it instead of all his time lying to the publick

    January 5, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Squard

    I lost a cat a few years ago too. I was very saddened.

    Then again I didn't cause the death of over 7000 Americans and countless Iraqis, so the death of one cat was significant to me.

    January 5, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Ellen

    My sympathies go to the Bush Family on the loss of their beloved cat. I lost my own beloved 17-year old cat a few years ago. It's a hard loss, they're part of the family.

    January 5, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. grandma t

    We are saddened to hear of your loss – Blessings to all of you.

    January 5, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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