The government of the United Kingdom has written a lengthy history of 10 Downing Street, the 330-plus year old building that serves as both the residence and office of the Prime Minister. The official gov-dot-uk website lists some of the notable figures that have lived in the historic building, including, well, a bunch of Prime Ministers — and a cat that was appointed to an official government job over a decade ago.
In February 2011, then-Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed a rescue cat named Larry to 10 Downing Street, where he was given the title of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. “Larry spends his days greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defenses and testing antique furniture for napping quality,” the site explains. “His day-to-day responsibilities also include contemplating a solution to the mouse occupancy of the house.” (To be fair, that also describes what current Prime Minister Boris Johnson does most of the time.)
Larry was adopted from London’s Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and he was recruited in the hopes that he could do something about the rodent problem that plagued the PM’s residence. But because politics is a burning landfill on its best days, even the Chief Mouser isn’t immune to criticism. “He has shown no interest in the many mice in Downing Street,” an anonymous source told The Independent shortly after his arrival. “There is a distinct lack of killer instinct.”
But Larry’s supporters outnumber his critics, and he has been hailed as a prime example why potential pet parents should adopt an animal from a shelter. “Throughout his time at Number 10, Larry has proven himself to not only be a brilliant ambassador for Battersea [Dogs and Cats Home] but also demonstrated to millions of people around the world how incredible rescue cats are,” Lindsey Quinlan, Battersea’s Head of Cattery, told the Associated Press.
“His rags to riches tale is yet more proof of why all animals deserve a second chance — one minute they may be an overlooked stray on the streets, the next they could become one of the nation’s beloved political figures, with fans around the world.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Larry is, paws-down, the best possible occupant of 10 Downing Street. And in second place? All of the rats.
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Featured image courtesy of: Her Majesty’s Government, Open Government License v1.