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A Cat By Any Other Name Is Just A Cat...
Meet Larry, The Chief Mouser,
to the Cabinet Office, 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.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
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.
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.
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 . The Prime Minister's office first said there were "no plans" for a cat to be brought in.
The British government voluntarily employees and feeds 100,000 cats to keep down mice on government property. By being chosen Chief Mouser, of course, Larry (and Freya) became quite pampered cats, living in royal luxury.
Larry's birthday was celebrated on 15 February 2016. A month later Larry's importance to the UK was compared favorably to a team of dolphins being trained by the Russian Navy. In April Larry's ability to be a good mouser was again questioned. So a new neighbor, Palmerston the cat, moved into the Foreign Office. Just a week later Palmerston made his first kill, a mouse.
During President Obama's April visit to the UK, Larry got much coverage in American social media and news reports. 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.
This article was created with information from Wikipedia.