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. Dog

    Sad for the Bush family, although it be bigger news when Cheney loses his pet: Bush the 2nd.

    January 5, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. pat

    CNN SHAME ON YOU FOR PUTIN THIS STORY FIRST ON POLICAL TICKER. IS THIS REALLY A STORY. WHO CARES ABOUT A DEATH OF A CAT. THERE IS MORE IMPORTANT STUFF THAN THIS

    January 5, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Latrice

    I'm naming my next dog George bush. Rip willie

    January 5, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. SCNHSTN

    There was a time when the office of the Presidency was respected regardless......and rightfully so.

    It is one of the saddest social changes of my life to see people with such vitriol malign the leader of our country.

    I have all the hope in the world in President-Elect Obama just as I tried to have with President Bush.

    While the story about the cat is obviously not earth shattering, let's continue to try and recognize that our President, right or wrong, is OUR President. Let's continue to hope the best for all of them!

    I'm sickened by seeing how those who would profit continue to pitch "We the people...." against each other at the cost of the common respect for our country.

    January 5, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. TexRex

    Friends of Wilie told reporters that he was ill for some time, and "ready to pack it in sooner." However the cat showed tremendous will, telling confidants in December that "holding out until the very end of the President's term was a more fitting coda to his disastrous presidency." The cat defended politicizing his own death, citing consistency with Bush Administration operating principles. "This one's for you, Karl. I'll miss Barney, but at least I 'aint going to Texas now"...

    January 5, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Miss Mouse

    Didn't even know Bush had a cat. That is really weird that Hindu nationalists would be insulted by the name India. I would have never changed the name, it was a nice name. Leave the pets out of the arena. Bush should not have bowed down to the foreigners and should have listened more to the American people. As for Obama, it seems like it has just been one big party since day 1.

    January 5, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Frank

    4000+ American soldiers, countless Iraqis, and a cat. The Bushes sure do favor diversity!

    An 18-year-old cat? How ironic. I wonder how many of our dead soldiers were born the same year as that cat. Ah, if only George Bush cared as much for our military as he did for that cat.

    I also wonder if Dick Cheney was anywhere in the vicinity of the dead cat.

    January 5, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. TimMN

    Huh? why is it an insult to name your pet "India"?

    January 5, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Ripper

    Too bad it was only the cat!!

    January 5, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Not a Bush fan

    But very sorry for the loss.

    January 5, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. todd

    Well, with the smartest member of the Bush family dead, the average IQ of the family has dropped about 75 points.

    January 5, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. JFB

    I'm also sorry for the Bush's (and no, I didn't vote for Bush either). I don't like cats all that much, but a family pet is a family pet. A good vet once told me, "It doesn't matter what the species of the pet is. People love their pets, and they become a part of the family." He said this to me after I told him I felt strange for bringing my pet rat, "Brain", for laser surgery on his paw that my dog nipped. Yes, it was "Brain" surgery!

    January 5, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Burger

    Looks like it's time for a new kitty for the Bushies. How about getting a Persian, and naming him, "War Criminal"? The grandkids can just call him, "Criminal", for short.

    January 5, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Proud American

    Oh dear god, will it have a state funeral?

    January 5, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Jeff in Illinois

    Little did the Hindy Nationalists know, pet names here are generally reverential when given "in honor" of someone or something.

    Other cultures also need to learn to understand our culture.

    And I'm no Bush supporter, in fact, I have been a vocal despiser of the entire Bush family since 1980.

    January 5, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Former Obama Voter

    $500? $500!?? Obama better fork over more than that, much more actually... I'm counting on a substantial govt check on the first of the month for the next four years... What is going on here

    January 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Jan Dalsheimer

    This is a big loss for any family who loves a companion animal. My sympathies are with the Bush family today.

    January 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. nate

    Hmmm symbolism anyone?

    January 5, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. Sye the Pychic

    Its sad,they should have named him Limball.

    January 5, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Erik in Iowa City

    India is a great name for a cat. And George Bush is a funny name, especially if you don't really like the cat. That the President of the United States had to change the name of his cat, because some uptight Indian PC police got offended, is annoying. Keep your political correctness to yourself.

    January 5, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. WisconsinHunter

    Who cares if the cat died? I sure dont....

    January 5, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Libby, Reston, VA

    This is more sympathy for the Bushes than I've ever felt. It's always hard to lose a member of the family.

    May they find peace - may the rest of us find peace come 1/21.

    January 5, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. TESAP;SAVANNAH, GA

    BARNEY KILLED THE CAT..... NO WAIT..WHERE WAS CHENEY AT THE TIME OF DEATH............

    January 5, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. max (NY)

    Who cares! a cat dies, so a cat dies, so do people.

    January 5, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. countryboy

    NON-NEWS...pets die all the time

    January 5, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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