Today, in the Prime Minister’s last session of parliamentary question time, David Cameron rebutted an argument that he does not love Larry, Number 10’s chief rat catcher. He said that he does love Larry but that he can’t take him with him when he moves out of number 10 Downing Street because Larry belongs to number 10. He is a permanent fixture of the building. So despite all the change that is going on around him, what with a new Prime Minister and a new cabinet, Larry the cat is to remain in Downing Street, a reassuring constant in dramatically changing times.
Larry is a brown-and-white tabby rescue cat who was adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and has been Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office since February 2001, after rats were seen jauntily hopping along the pavement in front of number 10!
Larry has become a familiar fixture in the street outside number 10 Downing Street. He has willingly posed for bored photographers waiting for dignitaries to emerge from the front door. In the picture on this page you can see him snoozing outside number 10 while Theresa May is walking towards the front door. To international visitors who may be unsure, Mrs May is the new Prime Minister of the UK.
Larry’s position has been assured by the incoming Prime Minister. Although he has been accused of lacking the killer instinct and failing to adequately deal with the rodent problem, he was selected, as I recall because, he demonstrated first-class rat catching skills.
It has been said by somebody close to the incoming Prime Minister,
“Theresa May has kept the country safe the last six years, therefore Larry can sleep easy.” (Theresa May has been the Home Secretary for six years. A major part of her work regards security.
A Cabinet office spokeswoman also said:
“It’s a civil servant’s cat and does not belong to the Camerons – he will be staying.”
There you have it, then. Larry the cat belongs to a civil servant. I would say that he belongs to the house of number 10 Downing Street. I don’t remember any Prime Minister bringing with them to the flat above the working area, their domestic cat.
We are told that one senior member of Mrs May’s team is allergic to cats. I am sure that they can deal with that if it’s true.
Larry has engaged in turf wars with a cat called Palmerston. Palmerston is Larry’s opposite number at the Foreign Office. They occasionally meet when patrolling their territories and in typical domestic cat style they have a yowling stand-off with each other. The photograph above shows this. It is a still photograph from a video taken by the BBC’s chief political correspondent.