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. Chris in MI

    Tell me again. This is newsworthy because....

    January 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Pat M

    This is pretty funny, the only time heartless democrats can say anything in regards to "blessings to the family" is when a stupid cat dies. It is cat. But other people just want to take another opportunity to show their vent up anger towards Bush. Thanks CNN, lets keep posting trivial news stories so people like me can waste our time reading this comments.

    January 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. Belynda

    Please tell me how this is about politics, or even news worthy? Between Obama's daughters going to school and this story, not much must be going on in Washington... That in and of itself is the sad story, not an article about a dead pet.

    January 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Dee

    Sad news – no matter how you feel about the pres, he is an animal-lover which is a good thing.

    January 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. oregon thinker

    Will the cat lie in state ?

    January 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. bob

    I can't believe they had a cat named India. India is clearly a Muslim name, therefore the Bushes are terrorists. I knew it.

    January 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Jean Mank

    My condolences to the family and friends of the First Cat. I have never pretended for one second to be a cat lover, and the feeling is mutual when it comes to the felines of this world. I grew up with cats (my beautiful late mother WAS a cat person) and the rest of (loving husband of what would have been 59 years this past New Years Day, and six children, all older than President-Elect Obama) learning to cope with cats in varying degrees. All three of my sisters loved cats and continue to own them except for one. However, I doubt there will be no man sadder than my wonderful father when Bob Robert, the old Siamese whom he has grudgingly learned to love quite deeply, decides to leave this plane of existence.

    January 5, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Apples for sale

    @ SCNH STN.I have respect for the office,when it has someone in it I dont consider a criminal,thanks.

    January 5, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. PJP

    I am very sorry about the pet but this is not good reporting even about the Bush's. I have had a many pet die and it never got on CNN, LOL! I know it hurts but let's go to other more important things to report about.

    January 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Beth in Philly

    I can't believe people are taking this as an opportunity to malign Bush. Obviously you are all soulless people who have never truly known the love of a good pet. Give them a break – they just lost a friend of 18 years!

    January 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. LIBERAL FOR LIFE

    Sorry to hear about the cat. Bush family has my blessings.

    January 5, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. US Citizen

    Bush thinks: It is Hammas fault – get the missles ready!!!

    January 5, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. oregon thinker

    Since the article says Bush and his wife are 'deeply saddened' by the demise of a cat, perhaps they could wear black armbands, and go to their Crawford ranch for a period of mourning...- till Jan 20th

    January 5, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. JJ12345

    Is this really worthy of news, must be a slow day. First the Obama girls go to school and now this.

    January 5, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Rafael Alfonso Caurimare

    Rest in peace!

    Bye Bye India

    January 5, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Frank

    "Sad news – no matter how you feel about the pres, he is an animal-lover which is a good thing."

    Hmmmm, that might very well be the ONLY good thing about him. He has never shown an ounce of sincere concern for the soldiers he sent to die just so he could prove to his daddy that he is a real man. And, isn't your willingness to send others into harm's way the true measure of your manhood?

    Whether it was Vietnam or Iraq, Bush was always been willing to let the REAL MEN do the heavy lifting.

    Rest in Peace Willie. You were more of a man than George W Bush will ever be!

    January 5, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. dave harlow

    I think there should be a moment of silence for this sad loss... ok moments up.. lets move on.

    January 5, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Denise Walters

    Good, I hope is life is filled with more misery for what he and Cheney have done to America!

    January 5, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Kim

    I'm not a fan of Bush, but I know that losing a pet is always sad.

    January 5, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. walleye

    I thought cats had 9 lives. I guess even they can't survive the abuses of the Bush administration.

    January 5, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Melissa B ~ California

    This is no time to crack jokes even if you think it's not news or you do not like President Bush. I did not vote for him, but show some sympathy, even if you don't like cats. I know most people like dogs, but us cat lovers adore our little furry friends. One of my cats died just over a year ago and it still gets to me to this day. It was like losing a friend.
    My condolences to the "Bushies".

    January 5, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. ME AT FL

    I have never been a Bush fan, but I am an animal lover, therefore my condolences to the family.

    January 5, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. Ed Word

    Did Cheney pet it?

    That could be the cause.

    January 5, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. PatC

    When is CNN going to do some real stories like why hasn't Barack Obama and all of the Democrat Senators asks for GOV Richardson to resign like they did Blago. Afterall he is one step further in the conviction process. You look at stories like this and you have to believe the National Enquirer may quickly become the best source of real news.

    January 5, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Nia Hussein- Phoenix, AZ

    Darth Cheney did it

    January 5, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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