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Larry the Downing Street Cat

January 2012

Larry started out as a stray living on the mean streets of London. Eventually he was brought to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. There he was adopted by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, with help from his family. Larry did not get the job on his good looks. The family wanted a cat that knew how to hunt rodents, because all-too-often the furry pests had been sighted scuttling around the house and grounds in Downing street (prompting unkind remarks about 'not all the rats wearing suits' and other equally catty comments.)

In his promotion to Downing Street, Larry steps in the paw-prints of Harry, the first official Downing Street moggy who arrived when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Harry served on her cabinet - and under and around the cabinet and the rest of the furniture - and continued serving as chief rat-catcher under Premiers John Major and Tony Blair.

Larry made himself quickly at home, exploring all corners of No 10, where he carefully selected the best spots for his (very) regular afternoon cat-nap. He was completely unfazed by the attention of reporters. Indeed, he was in the midst of his nap when the press arrived for the first meeting with Larry, and the media were left waiting for three quarters of an hour until Larry woke up.

Larry is an easy cat to like, and is not so much laid-back as laid-down and snoozing. Fond as the Cameron family and the staff became of Larry, everybody was somewhat troubled by the new rodent-catcher’s lackadaisical approach to his job. Weeks, then months, passed before Larry stirred himself enough to catch a mouse. His inactivity did not go unnoticed by a public accustomed to the government setting strict performance targets. Reluctantly Downing Street staff have had to admit that Larry is a more accomplished napper than rodent-chaser.

Matters came head to head when Mr Cameron was at dinner with Cabinet ministers. He apparently threw a fork at a mouse which ran across the floor during the meal. Perhaps wondering why catching mice was left to him, the PM decided that tougher measures were needed. It was not the first time that Cameron's family had spotted a mice in the building, and the patience of the Prime Minister had run out.

Larry can't be fired from his government job, because he's privately hired and fed by the downing street staff. However, he has now been banned from the Cameron family's private quarters so that he can apply himself better to de-mousing the rest of 10 Downing Street. The future will tell if Larry has got the hint, or whether the rodents of Downing Street will continue to run amok beneath his benevolent but sleepy gaze.

You can get a glimpse of Larry on this video:


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