Who pays for the 10 Downing Street cat, Larry?

Larry is a celebrity cat. He is well known internationally. His official workplace and residence are 10 Downing Street, the heart of the British government in the workplace of the Prime Minister. It is my belief that his upkeep is paid for, like his predecessors since 1929, by the staff at 10 Downing Street. They organise fundraisers to pay for his food such as a quiz night. When he was injured and required veterinary care the bill was picked up by staff working in the building through voluntary donations because of their affection for him.

Larry and Boris
Larry and Boris. Photo: no idea who took it. Probably one of his advisers at No 10.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

There was a question raised in the House of Lords as to why the staff members were not reimbursed. It seems to be a tradition that the staff take care of the house cat at number 10. It does raise the question, though, as to whether this informal arrangement is satisfactory. Strictly speaking, Larry is a government employee as he is a working cat as were his forerunners. He should be paid out of government coffers. He should be on the payroll and it should not necessarily be up to staff members who pay out of their salaries from which tax has been deducted. It is almost as if they are paying tax twice but I’m being too technical because Larry is a popular member of staff at 10 Downing Street and I will make the presumption that the staff are happy to look after him.

Larry the Cat
Larry the Cat

It appears that there are up to 200 people working in the building. It is larger than it looks. As the costs are going to be spread among a substantial number of people the individual cost is quite light and presumably satisfactory.

Incidentally, Larry received his injury when fighting with Palmerston, the former Foreign Office cat with whom he used to have some bust ups. Palmerston has been retired with stress. I met Palmerston when I visited the Foreign Office during an open day which occurs once a year. It is a rather soulless place and not particularly the kind of place where a domestic cat would find contentment. Perhaps, though, he was stressed because of the territorial conflicts encountered with Larry.

Larry was selected as a good mouser from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home because she has a feral background. As I recall, I do not think that he has caught many mice but that may be because there aren’t many mice at 10 Downing Street. In any event, his presence is a deterrent although I have seen a rat walking down Downing Street in a photograph taken by one of the press photographers!


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