At the Biden White House, the first feline is finally out of the bag.
Willow, a 2-year-old short-haired tabby with gray and white stripes, has moved into the White House, where she can now scratch and leap inside the historic home.
“The first lady named Willow after her hometown, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania,” said Michael LaRosa, first lady Jill Biden's spokesperson.
Curiosity about the cat spilled into the daily White House press briefing. In March, a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the pet, which the first lady had promised would be joining them.
“My actual question is, we’ve heard a lot about dogs; we were promised a White House cat. What happened to that?” the reporter asked, to which the press secretary responded: “Where is the cat? Today is a good day for the cat. I don’t have any update on the cat. We know the cat will break the Internet, but I don’t have any update on its status.”
Jill Biden had long talked about adding a cat to the family. In an April interview with NBC News, she confirmed her intentions. “Yes, that is true," Biden said. "She is waiting in the wings.”
President Joe Biden was asked if the cat was his idea. He replied with a chuckle, “No, but it’s easy.”
The first lady had met Willow when she was just a young farm cat in Pennsylvania, LaRosa said.
“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. Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden,” he said.
The first lady’s office did not explain why Willow did not join the family earlier, when two dogs were in their family.
The president has been fond of German shepherds for many years. The Bidens lost their beloved companion, Champ, in June at age 13. Their younger dog, Major, also a German shepherd, was the first rescue dog to live in the White House, but struggled to adjust to his new surroundings.
After a few biting incidents, the Bidens consulted animal behavior experts and determined that even after additional training, Major should live with family friends in Delaware. Later, the president’s brother gave him a new German shepherd puppy as a birthday gift.
When the White House introduced Commander publicly with a video on social media in December, Psaki was pressed again about the anticipated cat.
“We can expect to meet the cat, a 'she' as I’ve learned, in January,” Psaki said.
The official welcome for Willow comes near the end of that timeline.
Commander, who is now nearly five months old, is sharing his famous home and attention with a new feline sibling.
“Willow is settling into the White House with her favorite toys, treats, and plenty of room to smell and explore, ” said LaRosa.