Thursday, 25 October 2012
Top secrets of a Downing Street cat
He isn't much of a hunter, but has a soft spot for President Obama. As Number 10's Chief Mouser scraps with the Chancellor's moggie, we ask just what IS it like to be Britain's Top Cat?It was a scene worthy of one of the great political tussles – a vicious spat, red in tooth and claw. Only this melee wasn’t between a pair of ruthless political grandees but Downing Street’s two feline residents.
For, just before dawn earlier this month, Chancellor George Osborne’s tabby, Freya, bumped into the Prime Minister’s Chief Mouser, Larry – and unleashed hell. The catfight was fast and furious, and Freya’s well-placed left hook sent Larry scurrying for cover. But what do we really know about Larry, the moggie tasked with keeping the nation’s most famous address mouse-free? We went on the prowl and discovered these Top Secret facts…
- Larry was born circa 2007 in London, England.
- After being rescued from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home by Downing Street staff, he assumed his role as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office – the first cat to be granted the title officially – on 15 February 2011.
- He was given the position after Downing Street’s rodent problem spiralled out of control. As well as disturbing a ministerial dinner, rats and mice were spotted on several news reports.
- Larry got off to a bad start when, shortly after his arrival, he cuffed ITV news reporter Lucy Manning.
- His upkeep is funded by Downing Street staff, rather than the taxpayer.
- Larry has been neutered.
- According to his official page on the Number 10 website, ‘Larry spends his days greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defences and testing antique furniture for napping quality. His day-to-day responsibilities also include contemplating a solution to the mouse occupancy of the house. Larry says this is still “in tactical planning stage”’.
- The Prime Minister has noted that Larry is ‘not very keen on men’, but had a soft spot for US President Barack Obama. He said in a BBC interview, ‘Obama gave him a stroke and he was all right with Obama’.
- Larry wore a Union Jack bow tie during the Royal Wedding.
- His reputation was tarnished when reports emerged that he was a desperately poor mouser with a ‘distinct lack of killer instinct’. There were also tabloid rumours of him spending rather too much time with a female moggie named Maisie. Despite this, the Prime Minister revealed that by June, Larry had managed to catch three mice (all unconfirmed).
- Things got worse again, however, when Larry was banned from the Camerons’ private apartment at Number 10: his fur was playing havoc with the Prime Minister’s suits.
- Larry caught his first mouse, in public, on 28 August this year. The body was abandoned on a patch of grass nearby. Deputy Director of Communications at Number 10, Olly Grender, tweeted: ‘Just arrived at work. Larry the cat sitting proudly outside No 10 front door with a dead mouse next to him. Contrary to popular belief, Larry is not a tart for the cameras, and moved.’
- Larry’s Wikipedia page claims that the Government employs 100,000 cats to keep down mice. We suspect that this is an exaggeration.
- Larry has already written his memoirs (with help from James Robinson), The Larry Diaries: The First 100 Days As Chief Rat Catcher. It is currently 36,368 in the Amazon Bestsellers chart.
- Unfortunately, he was beaten to the Celebrity Cat of the Year award by cartoon character, Simon’s Cat.
- Larry reportedly got very excited about the bunting during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
- Images of Larry’s late-night tussle with Freya were captured by lucky photographer Steve Back. ‘They are always at each other’s throats,’ he said. ‘I wish I hadn’t broken them up and got more frames, but I couldn’t bear to see them fighting.’ He also revealed that he has seen No 10’s PR people move Larry into the window during state visits.
- Larry has several Twitter accounts, including @DowningStCat, which has 20,151 followers, and @Number10Cat, with 24,309 followers.
- He is just the latest in a long line of Downing Street cats. On 3 June 1929, AE Banham at the Treasury, authorised the Office Keeper ‘to spend 1d a day from petty cash towards the maintenance of an efficient cat’.
- The cats are civil servants and do not officially belong to the Prime Minister.
- Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, arguably had the first ministerial cat. He kept his moggie beside him when he was considering important matters of law.
- When The Lady called, Larry was unavailable for comment.
ROLL OF HONOUR: No 10’s First Cats
1924 Treasury Bill Ramsay MacDonald
1929-1946 Peter Stanley Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee
1937-1943 Munich Mouser Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill
1940s Nelson Winston Churchill
1946 Peter II Clement Attlee
1946-1964 Peter III Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home
1964-1973 Petra Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath
1973-1987 Wilberforce Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher
1989-1997 Humphrey Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair
2007-2009 Sybil Gordon Brown
2011-present Larry David Cameron
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918
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