LONDON — Larry the cat, a four-legged inhabitant of 10 Downing St. who’s beenin office longer than some prime ministers, marked a decade as Britain’smouse-catcher-in-chief on Monday.
The tabby cat was recruited by then-Prime Minister David Cameron to deal witha pack of rats seen scuttling close to the British leader’s officialresidence, and entered Downing Street on Feb. 15, 2011.
The former stray, adopted from London’s Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, wasgiven the title Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, an unofficial pest controlpost. He was the first cat to hold the rat-catching portfolio since theretirement of Humphrey in 1997, and has loyally served three prime ministers.
But it seems like yesterday that Larry was just another cat — as opposed to amedia superstar — said Lindsey Quinlan, the head of cattery of Battersea.
“Throughout his time at Number 10, Larry has proven himself to not only be abrilliant ambassador for Battersea but also demonstrated to millions of peoplearound the world how incredible rescue cats are,” she said.
“His rags-to-riches tale is yet more proof of why all animals deserve a secondchance — one minute they may be an overlooked stray on the streets, the nextthey could become one of the nation’s beloved political figures, with fansaround the world.”
Larry, who has met a number of world leaders, has been largely unfriendly tomen but took a liking to former U.S. President Barack Obama. When formerPresident Donald Trump visited in 2019, Larry took a nap under his car.
His grip on the public imagination is clear — and political leaders knowbetter than to ignore that popularity. The tomcat was a sentimental topic ofconversation in Cameron’s final appearance in Parliament as prime ministerwhen he said he wanted to quash a rumor that — perish the thought — he didn’tlike Larry.
And just to prove it, he whipped out evidence: a picture of Larry lying on hislap.
“He belongs to the house and the staff love him very much — as do I,” he saidat the time, explaining why he wasn’t taking Larry with him after leavingoffice.
After the December 2019 election, rumors swirled that Larry might be headedfor retirement with the news that the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, was adog man.
However, despite the prime minister moving Jack Russell cross Dilyn intoDowning Street, Larry remained in office.
Reports of his rodent-killing abilities vary. Larry became known for hisoccasional scraps with neighboring cats – especially Palmerston, chief mouserto the Foreign Office across the street – and fondness for sleep. Palmerstonhas retired to the country, so things have been a bit quieter of late.
These days Larry, now 14, is often seen by photographers patrolling his turf.Visitors to the building can sometimes find him napping on a ledge above aradiator or sleeping on a floor, where dignitaries occasionally have to stepover him.
At the heart of government, he specializes in power naps.
Source: USA Today
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