A round of a-paws please – this week marks a purr-fect 10 years of Larry the Cat at Number 10 Downing Street. Which is pretty good going, considering all his other housemates do a terrible job of staying put.
Over the past decade, Larry has worked with three Prime Ministers – David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson – welcomed two US Presidents and had a few laughs with the media who are always camped outside his digs.
Larry started life in Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and at the tender age of 4, was bestowed the duty of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. His main responsibilities in the new role were to kill vermin that had been spotted scuttling around the house behind the famous black door. Since then Larry has take to his role swimmingly, offering his droll take on politics and providing the media a few tit bits for the papers. Here, we take a look at Larry’s top 10 moments at Number 10.
1. His arrival from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
David Cameron initiated the recruitment of Larry after rats were spotted at Number 10. He was the first to hold the position since stalwart ratter Humphrey retired in 1997 (Sybil was another cat that moused between 2006-2009, but was the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s cat at number 11).
When Cameron left his position as PM, he gave a nod to Larry in his final speech in Parliament, diffusing hurtful rumours that he didn’t actually like the feline, saying: “Sadly, I cannot take Larry with me – he belongs to the house and the staff love him very much, as do I.” Maybe all the time spent in parliament talking about cats might have been better spent on politics… just a thought.
He is, of course, not the only one to come from Battersea, fellow colleagues, such as diplocat Palmerston at the Foreign Commonwealth Office and Gladstone at The Treasury also hail from the rescue centre. However, it is only Larry who has a blue plaque outside the facility in his honour.
The Government website lists his day-to-day responsibilities as: “greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defences and testing antique furniture for napping quality” as well as “contemplating a solution to the mouse occupancy of the house”, which is, apparently, after 10 years, “still in tactical planning stage”.
His day-to-day responsibilities include: "greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defences and testing antique furniture for napping quality"
2. He is sworn enemies with Palmerston, the ex-FCO cat
Larry and Palmerston, while life-long colleagues, have never really seen eye to eye. It has been rumoured that Larry might have even led to Palmerston’s early retirement. But it turned out that people were just feeding him too much, making him stressed and overweight.
Palmerston announced his resignation on Twitter in August last year, citing stress as the main factor for his move for a quieter life the countryside.
Before he escaped political life however, Palmerston and Larry often got into fights over their territory (classic politicians). One time, they even had to be extracted by security personnel. It really is all drama in politics.
3. He met two US Presidents and only liked one of them
Larry has seen the comings and goings of many famous ministers and presidents from around the globe, and he’s not one to hold back his reaction.
When Obama stepped onto the threshold, Larry was there for a very public meet and greet. And was surprisingly courteous and gracious, even though he normally “doesn’t like men”, according to Cameron.
On the other hand, when Trump arrived at Number 10, Larry performed a sit-in underneath his limousine and refused to move. He also photobombed Trump’s media call with Theresa May.
What can we say, apparently cats are excellent judges of character…
4. He has a great relationship with the police
The bobbies across London have a real soft spot for Larry. There have been pats on the head, treats, smiles and laughter.
The best moment however, has to be back in 2018 when London was grey and drizzly. The Chief Mouser had been expecting the condition of the local area, and on his return found the front door shut. Luckily, the nearby policeman knocked on the door to let Larry in. The moment provided fodder for the tabloids for at least two days.
5. But only when it suits him
The police also find Larry a bit of a nuisance. He’s had to be firmly removed from the steps before news announcements. He was taken off the road for indecent sunbathing. And he was even booted into the house by one policeman (all be it very lightly) to international outrage.
6. He has a great relationship with the media
The press just love Larry. Not only does Larry provide in-depth commentary and expert reactions to political events, he also looks great on camera.
He has been in every paper you can imagine, from The Guardian to The Telegraph to The Sun. And it’s not just in the UK, international press love him too. For his 10-year anniversary, Larry hit the headlines in France, The Netherlands, the US and even China.
He’s kind of a big deal.
7. But it’s hard to get an exclusive
However, Larry does play hard to get. Plus he’s a busy cat. One naive reporter tried to woo him with treats in the hope that he might get some inside information.
Sky reporter Jon Craig reached a career high when he spent a live news report pouring milk into a bowl in the hope that he could get the exclusive on whether Larry and the Cameron family were really not on good terms.
The attempt was futile. Freya, the Osbornes’ cat, drank the milk instead.
8. Larry upstages Theresa May’s big speech
As Theresa prepared for a tear-jerking speech around her resignation, Larry was chilling on the step waiting for his big moment. However, just before Theresa was due to step out, Larry was removed by security to avoid the limelight being shone on him instead.
Then the calls to have Larry as PM grew louder. Something we’re still firmly campaigning for.
He made his first public execution, a mouse, just two months after entering number 10, and since then has been reported to have successfully hit his official KPIs.
9. As Brexit tensions heightened… Larry nearly kills a bird
As Brexit negotiations reached fever-pitch, Larry, too, seemed somewhat stressed. The best way to relieve some pressure? To do what he does best: mouse. Or more precisely, catch birds.
To the shock of on-looking press and media camped outside Number 10, Larry landed perfectly on the back of a pigeon after an expertly targeted pounce. Unfortunately, just like Brexit, you can’t always get what you want, and the bird managed to escape.
While this one got away, Larry has in fact a very high success rate when it comes to catch and kill. He made his first public execution, a mouse, just two months after entering number 10, and since then has been reported to have successfully hit his official KPIs.
10. Larry for PM
There have been numerous calls for Larry to be Prime Minister. His (nearly) 450,000 followers on Twitter are a very loyal following, and they’ve seen first-hand how this feline weathers the frequent political storms that roll past the Number 10 door.
And while most prime ministers just have the one political life, Larry of course has nine. But, as we understand it, he much prefers bringing rye commentary from the backbench… and catching mice. Here’s to another 10 years Larry.