'First Feline' India dead at 18

Jan. 5, 2009 at 1:22 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- India, the Bush family's pet cat, has died at the White House at the age of 18, a spokeswoman for First Lady Laura Bush said Monday.

The Dallas Morning News said George W. Bush, his wife and daughters got the black American Shorthair as a kitten and named her after former Texas Rangers baseball player Ruben "El Indio" Sierra.

The first feline, who also went by the nickname "Willie," was overshadowed in recent years by her younger, more famous canine counterparts, Scottish Terriers Barney and Mrs. Beasley, the News noted.

"India was a beloved member of the Bush family for almost two decades. She will be greatly missed," Bush's spokeswoman Sally McDonough told the newspaper, adding that the family is "deeply saddened" by her death.

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