Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office

office held by a cat at 10 Downing Street

The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office is the official cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The cat works at 10 Downing Street. Only three cats, Humphrey, Sybil and Larry, have been given the title officially.[1][2] Other cats have been given this title as a nickname, usually by the British press. There has been a Downing Street cat mouser and pet since the reign of Henry VIII.[3]

Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

since 2011
Government of the United Kingdom
Office of the Prime Minister
StyleThe Right Honourable
Reports toCabinet
Residence10 Downing Street
AppointerPrime Minister of the United Kingdom
Term lengthNo set length; ends on retirement or death
Inaugural holderCardinal Wolsey's cat
Formationc. 1515

Official records about these working cats only date back to 3 June 1929. These come from the Treasury and state the cost for taking care of the cat. Now, the mouser costs 100 GBP (about $140) a year for keep.

The cats do not always belong to the Prime Minister in residence. Only rarely do they serve for exactly the same time as a Prime Minister.The cat with the longest known time at Downing Street is Wilberforce. He served for eighteen years under Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, and Margaret Thatcher.

Incumbent change

The incumbent is Larry, since 15 February 2011. The last cat Sybil, was the first mouser after a ten-year gap. She began in September 2007 and left in January 2009. Sybil was owned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, who lived in 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, lived in the larger 11 Downing Street. It was reported that Sybil did not like living in London. She went back to Scotland to live with a friend of the Darlings until she died.[4]

In January 2011, rats were seen in Downing Street, "scurrying across the steps of Number 10 Downing Street for the second time during a TV news report,", as reported by Independent Television News .[5] The Prime Minister's office first said there were "no plans" for a cat to be brought in. On 14 February 2011, it was reported that a cat named "Larry" had been brought in to get rid of the rodents. The London Evening Standard reported that the brown and white tabby cat had been chosen by David Cameron and his family, from those at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.[6]

In September 2012, it was reported that Prime Minister David Cameron had dismissed Larry from the post of Chief Mouser. He put in place Chancellor George Osborne's tabby cat, Freya, as the new Chief Mouser to patrol Numbers 10, 11, and 12. Some sources said the two cats would be "job sharing" to avoid any hurt feelings.[7] In November 2014 Freya was exiled from Downing Street, again leaving Larry as the Chief Mouser.[8]

When Theresa May became new Prime Minister in July 2016, Cabinet Office staff said that Larry would still live at Downing Street and would be Chief Mouser under the new Prime Minister.[9] However, The Daily Telegraph says maybe Cameron does not really like Larry.[10] During David Cameron's final Prime Minister's Questions on 13 July 2016, the Prime Minister said to the House that Larry's role as Chief Mouser was secure even after the change of premier. Cameron also showed photos that prove he loves Larry. He spoke of his "sadness" that he cannot take Larry with him.[11][12]

Larry has also been through UK Prime Ministers Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and current minister Rishi Sunak.

The British government voluntarily employees and feeds 100,000 cats to keep down mice on government property.[13] By being chosen Chief Mouser, of course, Larry (and Freya) became quite pampered cats, living in royal luxury.

Larry's sixth year in Downing Street change

Larry's birthday was celebrated on 15 February 2016. A month later Larry's importance to the UK was compared favourably to a team of dolphins being trained by the Russian Navy.[14] In April Larry's ability to be a good mouser was again questioned. So a new neighbour, Palmerston the cat, moved into the Foreign Office.[15] Just a week later Palmerston made his first kill, a mouse.[16]

During President Obama's April visit to the UK, Larry got much coverage in American social media and news reports.[17]

In June 2016 it was reported that Larry is undecided about the Brexit decision. Whether he gets to keep living at 10 Downing Street, he will still get his daily dinner.[18]

List of chief mouser cats change

Name Began tenure Ended tenure Prime Minister(s) Refs
Treasury Bill 1924 Ramsay MacDonald [19]
Peter 1929 1946 Stanley Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee
Munich Mouser 1937–40 1943 Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill [20][21]
Nelson 1940s Winston Churchill [21][22]
Peter 1941–46 Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee
Peter II 1946 Clement Attlee
Peter III 1946 1964 Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home
Peta 1964 ca. 1976 Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath
Wilberforce 1973 1988 Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher [23]
Humphrey 1989 1997 Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair [24]
Sybil 2007 2009 Gordon Brown [23][25]
Larry 2011 Current David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak [6]
Freya 2012 2014 David Cameron [7]

References change

  1. "Larry, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office". Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  2. "Purr-fect ending fur Humphrey!". BBC News. 25 November 1997. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  3. Davies, Caroline (24 November 1997). "More questions over how No 10 handled the kitty". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 December 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2016.(archive not available)
  4. "A Country Life for the No. 10 Cat". Daily Mail. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  5. "Another rat spotted on steps of Number 10". ITN. MSN. 24 January 2011. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Woodhouse, Craig (14 February 2011). "Larry the tabby lands No10 job as rat catcher". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "A paw performance! Larry the Downing Street cat is sacked as Number 10's chief mouse catcher after chillaxing too much on the job". Daily Mail. 16 September 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  8. Dearden, Lizzie (9 November 2014). "George Osborne's family cat Freya sent away from Downing Street to Kent". The Independent. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  9. Press Association (11 July 2016). "Larry the cat will not be evicted from No 10, Cabinet Office confirms". the Guardian.
  10. James Kirkup (12 July 2016). "David Cameron's worst lie is finally revealed: Larry the cat". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  11. Steven Swinford (13 July 2016). "David Cameron: I do love Larry the cat and I can prove it". Daily Telegraph.
  12. Heather Saul (13 July 2016). "David Cameron: The surprising description of him that he 'hated'". The Independent.
  13. Oldfield, Molly; Mitchinson, John (11 June 2012). "QI: Quite interesting facts about cats". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 29 December 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  14. "Russia's military dolphins and other animals with important jobs". The New Daily. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  15. Helena Horton (13 April 2016). "Palmerston the cat arrives for work at the Foreign Office". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  16. "Palmerston the cat makes first catch after being recruited as 'chief mouser' at Foreign Office - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. 3 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  17. "Larry the Cat stole centre stage with the US media following Barack Obama's visit". Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  18. Faircloth, Kelly (27 June 2016). "A Question About Brexit: Does 10 Downing Street Get to Keep Larry the Cat?". Jezebel website. Archived from the original on 28 June 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  19. Campbell, Mel (19 May 2010). "'Miaow, Prime Minister': the bureaucats of Downing Street". Crikey. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  20. Irving, David (2001). Churchill's War Volume II: Triumph in Adversity. Focal Point Publications. p. 833. ISBN 1-872197-15-9.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Riddles, Mysteries, Enigmas". Finest Hour (110). The Churchill Centre. Spring 2001.
  22. "Riddles, Mysteries, Enigmas". Finest Hour (109). The Churchill Centre. Winter 2000–2001.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jane Merrick (11 September 2007). "Ten years after the Humphrey hoo-ha, a cat returns to Downing Street". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  24. "Humphrey the Cat" (PDF). Cabinet of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  25. "Morning press briefing from 11 September 2007". 10 Downing Street, Government of the United Kingdom. 11 September 2007. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2011.

Further reading change

Other websites change

Title last held by
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
With: Freya