Brits should be proud of themselves. We now have three cats employed by the three major departments in the British government. At Number 10 Downing Street, the home and office of the UK’s Prime Minister, we have Larry. At the Foreign Office we have Palmerston. And about a month ago, but only recently reported upon because of the referendum, we now have a beautiful black cat whose name is William Gladstone. All are named after former Prime Ministers. It’s great that Gladstone is a black cat. It should help promote what is the least popular cat colour.
As I recall, all three have been adopted from perhaps the world’s most famous rescue centre for animals, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
The Treasury is headed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and he lives at number 11 Downing Street and they have offices there as well. Actually, I have to correct myself. Although the flat at Number 11 Downing Street should be occupied by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is actually occupied by the Prime Minister because it is larger while the Chancellor lives at the flat above Number 10.
So yes, we are proud that we are employing rescue cats to carry out high profile rat-catching and mouser duties but there is a little bit of a downside to all this. Larry has been known to get into fights with Palmerston. In fact he has recently been engaged in a full-blown brawl with Palmerston and he came off worse. A vet had to be called to treat an injured paw.
In addition, a police officer had to evict Palmerston after he got in to Number 10 through the front door. This is encroaching upon Larry’s territory and this is probably why they are fighting. Also my personal view is that the area where all three cats live is quite dangerous to cats because it is very central in London where there is a lot of traffic.
Gladstone arrived at his new home about a month ago. The public announcement was delayed because of the referendum vote and the reporting of it for a considerable time thereafter. Gladstone was hired by John Kingman, the Treasury’s former acting permanent secretary. Apparently the Treasury has a worsening rodent problem. This is a genuine employment contract and Gladstone has a job of work to do. The same applies to the Larry and Palmerston. These are not mascot cats.
Gladstone is confined to an office with six Treasury officials. He is to be fitted with a tracking device. This will enable him to roam the Treasury estate to catch rodents. His upkeep is being paid for through a fund organised and funded by Treasury staff. The current Chancellor of the Exchequer is Philip Hammond who apparently prefers dogs to cats. He owns two dogs, a Welsh terrier and a dachshund.
I am one of those people who firmly believe that there should be many more working cats in storage facilities, office blocks and any other appropriate working environment in London. There are many offices in old buildings in London. Some occupy converted arches under railways, for instance. These are suitable places for a working cat and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is in a very central position in London so it is extremely easy to adopt an unwanted or homeless cat.