In western politics, few recent figures have been able to command stability, respect and awe in the way that this particular feline has.

Back in early 2016, something of a scandal began to simmer in British politics that threatened to overshadow the Government's main message.

Amid the historic referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, a nasty rumour spread about then-Prime Minister David Cameron's frosty relationship with a senior figure.

Newspaper The Telegraph reported that Mr Cameron "didn't like" a certain popular 10 Downing Street fixture, and somewhat disparagingly referred to him as "it" in conversations.


It wasn't until his final day in power — Mr Cameron resigned in the wake of the Brexit decision — that he finally addressed the scurrilous speculation.

"The rumour that somehow I don't love Larry," the PM said in Parliament during his farewell speech. "I do."

He continued: "And I have photographic evidence to prove it."

What that, he held up an image of himself with Larry, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sat in his lap.

Larry, more commonly known as the Downing Street Cat, is a beloved figure in the UK who outlasted Mr Cameron and his successor Theresa May.

David Cameron released this image as 'proof' that he didn't hate Larry. Photo / Twitter
David Cameron released this image as 'proof' that he didn't hate Larry. Photo / Twitter

Now, with an election a very real possibility if a Brexit resolution isn't forthcoming, the feline could very well see off Boris Johnson as well.

In this special investigation, we delve into Larry's firm grip on power, his critically important role, and his bitter rivalry with a neighbourhood foe.



Many political leaders adopt pets when they assume office, in order to soften their public image or keep their young children occupied.

But Larry was never destined to be merely a lap cat.
The tabby was four years old when he was adopted by Mr Cameron's staff in 2011 from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London for a very special purpose.

Built in 1684, 10 Downing Street — the official office and residence of prime ministers — is a grand building, but like most ageing heritage structures, is plagued by rodents.

Larry's job as Chief Mouser is to keep the rat and mice population in check — a job that his former shelter said he was perfect for, leading to his adoption just a month after arriving.

"When he first arrived at the cattery, staff noted that he had 'the air of a cat who had had a tough life so far' but as a stray, no one can be sure exactly what his life was like before his ascent to global fame," Battersea spokeswoman Debbie Chapman told

"During his stay Larry proved himself to be a confident cat who liked to be the centre of attention and would let people know if he was feeling ignored.

"However he also enjoyed being independent and would keep himself amused."

Announcing his arrival in early 2011, Downing Street's press team issued a statement describing Larry as showing "a very strong predatory drive".

He also had "a high chase-drive and hunting instinct" thanks to his years navigating the mean streets London as a stray.

Although, Larry seemed distracted by the trappings of high office and was initially a little lazy in his duties … perhaps not unlike some politicians who promise the world and underdeliver.

With some training by staff, using toy mice on strings, he got the hang of hunting and presented his very first kill at the feet of a secretary several weeks later.

"Larry spends his days greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defences and testing antique furniture for napping quality," according to Downing Street.

"His day-to-day responsibilities also include contemplating a solution to the mouse occupancy of the house. Larry says this is still 'in tactical planning stage'."

Larry the Downing Street Cat outside his office. Photo / News Corp Australia
Larry the Downing Street Cat outside his office. Photo / News Corp Australia


Images and vision of Larry regularly spread across the internet like wildfire.

Cameras set up outside Downing Street awaiting press conferences by the PM often capture Larry lounging in the sun on the cobblestones or bathing himself at the front door.

One video of the cat patiently waiting to be let inside went viral. In it, a policeman guarding the building has to knock to alert those inside of Larry's presence.

When Ms May assumed the role of PM, her arrival at Downing Street was overshadowed somewhat by Larry, sat outside, seemingly nonplussed by the historic moment.

And when she resigned recently, the assembled media noted that a staffer had to come out to retrieve the cat before Ms May ventured out to the podium.


Not long after taking the top job, Ms May gave an interview where her relationship with Larry was a key talking point.

Ms May said she was "very happy" to see him after arriving at Downing Street, but indicated she was more of a dog person.

There was the faintest hint of tension when she marked that Larry "rules the roost" in many parts of the building, but that she had ensured her office chair was off limits.

It was also said that Mr Cameron barred access to his family's private apartment upstairs, leaving Larry to lurk in the offices below at night.

But the feline's nonchalant dominance was on full display earlier this year during US President Donald Trump's state visit to the UK.

While at Downing Street, Mr Trump's specially made car — known as The Beast, due to being virtually indestructible — was parked outside when Larry crept under it to escape the rain.

When it was time for the President to depart, Larry refused to budge, keeping the entourage of vehicles trapped until he was good and ready to come out.

It seemed he was more a fan of Barack Obama, who was allowed to pet the cat during his presidential visit in 2011.

Some others have also copped a negative reception.

On his very first day at Downing Street, a television journalist reached out for a pat and was clawed four times on her arm. Larry then ran under a table and refused to come out.

But the PM's office said Larry is usually warm and welcoming to guests.

One of Boris Johnson's first acts was to publicly signal his affection for Larry. Photo / Twitter
One of Boris Johnson's first acts was to publicly signal his affection for Larry. Photo / Twitter


Like politics, Larry's position in the top job seems to have occasionally attracted attacks from those lower down the leadership ladder.

Some other government buildings near Downing Street are also home to mousers, who patrol the historic halls for rats.

Palmerston, a black-and-white cat also adopted from Battersea, occupies the Foreign Office and has occasionally wandered from his post to Larry's.

They're far from friends though, and in 2016 a furious fight broke out behind a delivery van.

A press photographer who witnessed the violent altercation said at the time that the cats "were at each other hammer and tongs".

Palmerston suffered a nasty injury to his ear and Larry's collar was ripped off, on account of the two "literally (ripping) fur off each other".

The cats had to be separated by security for the sake of their safety and survival.

Palmerston is the mouser of the Foreign Office building. Photo / YouTube
Palmerston is the mouser of the Foreign Office building. Photo / YouTube

Meanwhile, Gladstone, the mouser around at the Treasury headquarters, largely keeps to himself, preferring to stay indoors where he's well fed and often dons a bow tie.


Cats have come and gone from Downing Street for the better part of a century now, with PM Ramsay Macdonald bringing his feline Rufus with him in the 1920s.

The BBC described him as "a renowned ratcatcher" and said his nickname among Cabinet members and house staff was "Treasury Bill".

He also carried the unofficial title of "Rufus of England".

A little while later, a new occupant known as the Munich Mouser ruled alongside Neville Chamberlain and then Winston Churchill.

In 1989, a stray cat crept into Downing Street while Margaret Thatcher was in office and was promptly adopted, given the name Humphrey.

He lived there happily until the 1997 election of Tony Blair, when he was sent to live with a public servant — reportedly because Cherie Blair hated cats.