There's a mouse in the House
Country Life UK|October 27, 2021
As Larry celebrates 10 years as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, Claire Jackson looks back at the cats of Downing Street–and the prime ministers who have served them
Claire Jackson

HE has provided continuity in a tumultuous political era, charmed world leaders and is (almost) universally loved by all on Downing Street. Yet, despite his nonpartisan character, the fur still flies from time to time. Larry the cat has been chief mouser since 2011, when David Cameron recruited the brown-and-white tabby from Battersea. Now 14, Larry has clocked up a decade in office and is serving his third prime minister. He might be the first feline to be bestowed with an official title, but he’s not the only political fat cat (a recent memo warned that Larry is suffering from the dreaded lockdown spread, ‘too many Dreamies’). Mousers have managed Government pest control for centuries, with the role ‘professionalised’ in 1929, when Whitehall staff sought permission for a penny-a-day allowance for the maintenance of the post.

Over the following years, more cats joined the payroll, receiving the odd wage increase in response to requests, such as that from one Mrs Law, in 1948, who wrote: ‘Please is it possible for the office cats’ food money to be increased as it is impossible to buy a week’s food for 1/6.’ Unlike previous mousers, Larry does not receive a salary from the taxpayer —instead, his keep is paid for by Downing Street wellwishers.

The influence of the paw patrol increased after one No 10 cat, Peter III, appeared on the BBC programme Tonight in 1958, blazing a trail for Larry’s public profile. When the moggy died in 1964, having served five prime ministers, he was buried in a pet cemetery and given a marble headstone.

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