Following several high-profile resignations from Downing Street, Number 10 has unveiled a new recruit: a rat-catching cat called Larry.
The feline has been “hired” after a large rat was seen racing past live TV cameras twice last month.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said staff at Battersea had observed that Larry had a “strong predatory drive” and enjoyed playing with toy mice, suggesting that he will be a good rat-catcher.
“Before coming to Battersea, he was a stray, so he is used to fending for himself on the streets,” added a spokesman.
“Nothing is ever guaranteed, but his behaviour in Battersea convinced staff that he was up for the job.”
However, he added that the cat’s appointment was not without its detractors. “There was a group of people in Downing Street who though it was a jolly good idea. They have won,” he said.
It is the first such official appointment since stalwart ratter Humphrey was retired in 1997, shortly after Tony Blair arrived in Downing Street.
Humphrey was succeeded for a short period by Sybil – the pet of then chancellor Alistair Darling, in 2007 – but the renowned mouser returned to Scotland with her master.
It is not known whether Larry will be granted full access to the Camerons’ living quarters, although he is believed to be family-friendly, in addition to his abilities as a “mouser”.
A Downing Street spokesman confirmed: “The Prime Minister has met the cat. He’s held the cat. It’s early days in their relationship.”
The Prime Minister has met the cat. He’s held the cat. It’s early days in their relationship. Downing Street spokesman
He is the latest in a long line of Downing Street cats, known unofficially as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.
Humphrey was adopted in 1989 after wandering into the No 10 as a stray while Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, and remained throughout the administration of John Major.
He moved out six months after Labour’s 1997 general election win, with Tony Blair’s wife Cherie denying reports that her dislike for the animal was to blame.
Larry was found in London in early January in “a bit of a state,” according to Claire Horton, from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
She said: “When he came to us he was quite poorly, in a sense that he was very ragged, very cold, but no signs of being ill-treated: he was obviously a stray for quite a long while before he came to us. He’s quite a beauty now, though, isn’t he?
“He’s going to a very good place”.
Larry’s new-found stardom soon spread to the internet, where he now has his own Wikipedia page, and Twitter account. Ominously for those who wish for an end to the political mudslinging that has raged through Westminster recently, the camera-hungry rat also has a Twitter account and began goading his hunter.
“I am no tim’rous beastie…I am rat. Bring it on,” ‘Rufus’ the rat ‘wrote’.
“What kind of name is Larry for a cat anyway. Horrible creature.”