WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time in more than a dozen years, a cat lives in the White House, and this kitten is from a Volant farm in Lawrence County.
Her name is Willow, and she is a 2-year-old, green-eyed, gray and white farm cat who first caught the attention of First Lady Jill Biden during the campaign.
“Willow is settling into the White House with her favorite toys, treats and plenty of room to smell and explore,” said Michael LaRosa, spokesman for the first lady.
Jill Biden had said they were bringing a kitten to the White House after electing her husband Joe Biden in November 2020, but months went by without a sighting or word on when she would arrive. Then, last month, the White House said the cat would come in January.
Willow is named for the First Lady’s hometown of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
The short-haired tabby made quite an impression on Jill Biden after she jumped onto the stage during a 2020 campaign stop in Pennsylvania and interrupted her remarks, LaRosa said.
“When the farm owner saw their immediate bond, he knew Willow would go to Dr. Biden belonged,” he said. The owner gave the cat to the first lady, who was kept away from the White House until the right time to move her and her litter box.
The White House has been without a feline resident since President George W. Bush’s cat, who died in the mansion in January 2009, just before the end of his term in office. Before that, President Bill Clinton had his Socks cat in the White House.
Stacy Cordery, who teaches history and leadership at Dickinson State University, said that adopting a pet is always a happy time for any family and that owning dogs and cats could help increase the Bidens’ public appeal at a time of more political politics problems for the President to increase.
Cordery, who has written books about President Theodore Roosevelt and his family, noted the contrast between Biden and his immediate predecessor Donald Trump, who did not have a pet in the White House during his presidency.
“I think part of their goal is to make the White House more accessible,” Cordery said of the Bidens.
They have owned cats in the past, but not since the death of their kitten, Daisy.
Willow joins Commander, a German shepherd puppy introduced to Joe Biden in December as a birthday present from the President’s brother, James Biden, and his wife Sara.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki teased that Willow may one day show up at one of her daily briefings.
“She has a standing invitation. It would be purrrfect,” Psaki tweeted, adding #COTUS — which stands for “Cat of the United States.”
The Bidens had two other German shepherds, Champ and Major, in the White House before Commander.
But Major, a 3-year-old rescue dog, began behaving aggressively after arriving in January 2021, including two biting incidents. The White House had said Major was still adjusting to his new home and he was sent back to the Bidens’ home in Delaware for training.
The Bidens, after consulting dog trainers, animal behaviorists and veterinarians, decided to follow the experts’ collective recommendation and send Major to a quieter environment with family friends, LaRosa said last month.
Champ died in June at the age of 13.