Larry the cat celebrates 10 years as the UK’s leading mouse catcher


By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA, The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) – Larry the cat, a four-legged inhabitant of 10 Downing St. in London, marks a decade as Britain’s chief mouse catcher on Monday.

The tabby cat was recruited by then Prime Minister David Cameron to care for a pack of rats seen scurrying near the British leader’s official residence, and entered Downing Street on February 15, 2011.

The former stray dog, adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, was given the title of Chief Mouser from the Cabinet Office, an unofficial pest control post. He was the first cat to hold the rat-catching portfolio since Humphrey’s retirement in 1997, and has faithfully served three prime ministers.

But it looks like yesterday Larry was just another cat – as opposed to a media superstar – said Battersea Cattery Manager Lindsey Quinlan.

“Throughout his time at Number 10, Larry has proven not only to be a brilliant ambassador for Battersea, but has also shown millions of people around the world how amazing Rescue Cats are,” a- she declared. “His story of rags to riches is further proof of why all animals deserve a second chance – one minute they can be forgotten in the streets, the next they could become one of the political figures well- beloved of the nation, with fans around the world. “

Larry, who has met a number of world leaders, has been largely hostile to men, but has taken a liking to former US President Barack Obama. During former President Donald Trump’s visit in 2019, Larry took a nap under his car.

His hold on the public imagination is clear – and political leaders know better than to ignore this popularity. The tomcat was a sentimental topic of conversation during Cameron’s last appearance in Parliament as Prime Minister when he said he wanted to quash a rumor that – perish the thought – he didn’t like Larry.

And just to prove it, he pulled out some evidence: a photo of Larry lying on his knees.

“He belongs to the house and the staff love him very much – and so do I,” he said at the time, explaining why he wasn’t taking Larry with him after he left office.

After the December 2019 election, rumors circulated that Larry may be heading for retirement with the news that new PM Boris Johnson is a dog man. However, although the Prime Minister moved Jack Russell from Dilyn to Downing Street, Larry remained in office.

Reports of its rodent killing abilities vary. Larry has become known for his occasional run-ins with neighboring cats – especially Palmerston, the Foreign Office’s mouse chief across the street – and his fondness for sleep. Palmerston has retired to the countryside so things have been a bit calmer lately.

These days, Larry, now 14, is often seen by photographers patrolling his territory. Visitors to the building can sometimes find him napping on a ledge above a radiator or sleeping on a floor, where dignitaries sometimes have to step over him.

Within government, he specializes in energy naps.

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