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Relax, America: Willow the First Cat has officially moved into the White House

'Willow made quite an impression on Dr. Biden in 2020 when she jumped up on the stage and interrupted her remarks during a campaign stop.'

Relax, America: Willow the First Cat has officially moved into the White House
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Jill Biden

There's a cat in the White House again! In a tweet on Friday morning, First Lady Jill Biden introduced the world to Willow, the family's long-awaited feline member. Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for the first lady, said in a news release that Willow is a two-year-old, green-eyed, gray-and-white short-haired tabby whose name is inspired by Jill Biden’s hometown of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. The cat—who comes from an unnamed Western Pennsylvania farm—reportedly joins the first family more than a year after she caught the first lady's eye during a campaign trip in 2020.


"Willow made quite an impression on Dr. Biden in 2020 when she jumped up on the stage and interrupted her remarks during a campaign stop," LaRosa said in the press release, reports The Washington Post. "Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden." He confirmed that the cat is "settling into the White House with her favorite toys, treats and plenty of room to smell and explore." A set of photos released by the White House show Willow adapting well to her new surroundings, wandering through the halls of the White House, sitting on a window sill and taking in the view of the Washington Monument and sprawling on the Cross Hall of the White House.



Willow now shares the White House with Commander, a pure-bred German Shepherd puppy, that the Bidens adopted in December of last year, following the death of their dog Champ and the rehoming of their dog, Major. Major, who was the first shelter dog in the White House, had trouble adjusting to his new home in the White House and made headlines for a handful of aggressive incidents involving staff there. "After consulting with dog trainers, animal behaviorists, and veterinarians, the first family has decided to follow the experts' collective recommendation that it would be safest for Major to live in a quieter environment with family friends," LaRosa previously told CNN.


Meanwhile, Willow's arrival comes after much anticipation. The nation has been eagerly waiting for news of a cat at the White House ever since Dr. Biden casually mentioned in a November 2020 interview with CBS that she'd love to add a cat to the family. The subject came up often in briefings, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki fielding questions about the administration's cat policy from reporters and other interested parties. "I'm also wondering about the cat," Psaki said during a question-and-answer session with Twitter users last January, "because the cat is going to dominate the internet whenever the cat is announced and wherever that cat is found."


A few months later, in April 2021, Dr. Biden teased the cat's arrival during an appearance on the 'Today' show by suggesting that the animal was "waiting in the wings." However, when speaking to The New York Times in September, the first lady revealed that the cat's arrival was delayed because of Major's behavioral issues. "The cat is still being fostered with somebody who loves the cat," she said at the time. "I don't even know whether I can get the cat back at this point."


Willow will be the first cat to live in the White House since India, a black cat who belonged to President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. Including India and Socks, the black-and-white resident feline of the Clinton White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has only seen a dozen feline inhabitants in its entire history. Andrew Hager, historian for the online Presidential Pet Museum, believes this disparity has something to do with the personality of presidents and cats. "I always think that some of it is the fact that cats are a little bit less trainable," he said. "So it's harder to bring a cat to a news conference and have it sit there and look cute."

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