January 5th, 2009
01:06 PM ET
5 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. karen

    God bless Willie

    January 5, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    TO BARACK WINS and america Loses:
    WHAT? You say its the LIBERAL DEMOS that spend money?? hey, under CLINTON, the budget was balanced. UNDER THE BUSHs we are in serious financial trouble.. We flushed tons of money into this foolish war in Irak. They cant even account for the wasted money. The republicans and their love for DEREGULATION has taken the value of our money and flushed that away too. To blame Liberal demos for the mess we are in just SHOWS HOW MUCH BRAIN WASHING the right wing media has done to the US.. Look at the facts: we have lost tons of money under the BUSH people.. BARACK is the first person with any brains for the last 8 years.

    January 5, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. gregg45

    latrice ,, get a home first

    January 5, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Felines For Freedom

    Poor sweet little cat....RIP Indie. Hope you had a wonderful life.

    January 5, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Ian

    It's good to see CNN posting this story on the front page. I don't know, maybe the conflict in Sri Lanka is more important but who am I? It is disappointing when respected news organizations report soft news.

    January 5, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Celeste

    Willie Kitty must have had great care and a good home at the White House!

    I've had cats all my life...literally...my mother said our cat weighed more than I did when I was born. I now have a 16-year-old named Puddin' and hope he stays healthy till 18 or more, but he's the oldest cat I've had yet.

    January 5, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. gregg45

    no to the ivasion of israel................... an incursion,, why cnn,,, is that commie flag flyin

    January 5, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. bashing baby seals in Alaska

    I named my pet flea,Cheney.

    January 5, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Proud American

    Starting today America will have 30 days of mourning. Also, Willie Horton will lay in state at the U.S. Capitol for 5 days. God help us get throught this terrible time.

    January 5, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. Chi

    My heart goes to the Bush family, I know its hard to lose a close pet. The rest of you people need to learn more respect. He is our president.

    January 5, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Karen

    My deepest condolences to the Bush family.

    January 5, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. max (NY)

    Let us know when the first roach or bug dies too please.

    January 5, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. Uncle Fester

    So sad–condolonces from someone who adores cats.

    Eric and Cam, get a life, go spew your hateful crap somewhere else-or better yet, if you can't say someting nice, then STFU

    January 5, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. JFB

    To the poster referred to as "Barack wins and America loses":

    I am glad to hear your lobotomy was a spectacular success!

    January 5, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Rubin

    I feel very sorry for the cat, but I have to think about all of the deaths and all of the suffering and misery that George W. Bush has caused and is now responsible for after his eight disastrous years in the White House. If he's so upset about his cat, then why isn't he disturbed about the 1 million+ Iraqi civilians killed, the 4000+ American service men and women who where killed in Iraq, not to mention the 30,000 troops who are seriously injured and wounded and lives shattered here in the US... all because he lied about WMD to get us into this war.

    January 5, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Linda - NY

    It's very sad to lose a beloved pet. I'm glad this cat had a good quality of life with those who loved him.

    January 5, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. rockturner

    Forget the job function. A pet is a pet.
    obviously India – Willie was loved.
    may all pets have such devoted owners.

    January 5, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Tim

    Cat's can detect good and evil. Who has been to the White House recently that may be evil?

    January 5, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. Anne

    They changed a 10-year-old cat's name? A young cat is one thing, but how is a 10-year-old cat supposed to understand that its name is insulting to Hindu nationalists and will now have to respond to "Willie"? I hope they still called her India in private. Bush shouldn't have named a cat India in the first place, but 10 years is too late to start over. No sense in confusing the animal because of the mistakes of the human.

    January 5, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. Henry

    Politics aside, it is always sad to lose a pet

    January 5, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Susan

    Mari wrote- EVEN though I am disgusted with ……..Bush……… the ONE thing I liked about him was his love of animals.
    _______________
    Bush has no love for animals!!!! If he did his policies on the environment and areas that his administration wants to open up for drilling wouldn't have been allowed. His policies have been a cancer to our environment for the last 8 years.....glad he's gone for good in about 2 weeks!

    January 5, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Mark in Ocala

    I am constantluy amazed at the bravery and those with strong courage and convictions when they attack Bush or Obama behind the curtain of being "Anonymous." I picture those as being nothing more than ankle biters.

    First pets simply lighten the news mood and they make a connection to all of us who have pets. For pets transend party and partisan lines and make all of us a bit more human.

    My condolences and sympathy to the Bush family over the loss of a beloved pet.

    January 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. a REAL American

    Eric, don't you get it? Even after Bush is long gone, liberals' hatred and lunacy will remain, only it will be reserved for Sarah Palin. Just read some comments posted about Palin's daughter and granddaughter over the past week and you'll see what I mean!

    My condolences to the Bush family.

    January 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Bob

    This string of postings: Another example of stupid Americans

    January 5, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Tipper P. Dickens

    When Willie, AKA India, heard thet Bush 41 recommended, Jeb, Boy Gerorge's brother for the Oval Office, Willie saying it will be more peaceful this way made a dignified exit.

    Bless you Willie and continue in peace.

    Sincerely,

    Your K-9 Friends

    January 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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