America Now Has a First Cat

Willow joins Commander, the Bidens' German shepherd puppy, in the White House
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2022 7:40 AM CST
America Now Has a First Cat
Stock photo (not Willow).   (Getty Images/Nitiphonphat)

(Newser) – Commander has a new friend in the White House. Last month, President Biden and wife Dr. Jill Biden adopted the German shepherd puppy and brought him to DC. Now he's got a feline companion. The Bidens welcomed a 2-year-old gray-and-white tabby named Willow to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Wednesday, and Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for the first lady, says in a statement that the cat is "settling into the White House with her favorite toys, treats, and plenty of room to smell and explore," per the New York Times.

LaRosa notes that Willow "made quite an impression" on Jill Biden while she was at a campaign stop in 2020 at a farm in Pennsylvania, where the cat leaped onto the stage while the then-candidate's wife was speaking. "Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden," LaRosa says. Early Friday, Jill Biden introduced Willow—named for the first lady's hometown of Willow Grove, Pa.—to America, tweeting some pics of the inquisitive-looking kitty lounging and roaming the halls of the White House.

The Washington Post notes there've been about a dozen cats who've made the White House their home—from Abraham Lincoln's Tabby and Dixie to Bill Clinton's Socks to George W. Bush's India—though commanders in chief have historically tended to gravitate more toward dogs. Willow has been living with a foster family until the Bidens could bring her to DC, a move delayed as they dealt with the behavioral issues of their other German shepherd, Major, who's now living with family friends.

There's been a bit of mystery surrounding the cat ever since Jill Biden mentioned it more than a year ago, with even White House secretary Jen Psaki forced to address the issue at various news briefings and appearances. "First feline updates would be greatly appreciated," someone queried Psaki during a virtual Q&A shortly after Biden took office. "I'm also wondering about the cat, because the cat is going to dominate the internet whenever the cat is announced," an amused-looking Psaki replied at the time. The Post notes there's been no word on whether Willow and Commander have been formally introduced. (Read more Joe Biden stories.)

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