|Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office|
15 February 2011
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Born||c. January 2007 (age 7)
First year in Downing Street
Larry is a rescue cat from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and was chosen by Downing Street staff. Media speculation had raised the possibility of a new feline arriving in Downing Street after rats had been seen on two occasions behind television news correspondents reporting live, with a Downing Street "pro-cat faction" having apparently won the argument. The cat is also intended to be a pet for the children of David and Samantha Cameron. He immediately courted controversy for taking a swipe at ITV News reporter Lucy Manning whilst being required to pose for a news item.
He has been described by Downing Street sources as a "good ratter" and as having "a high chase-drive and hunting instinct". Soon after he was taken in at Downing Street, a story ran in the press claiming that Larry was a lost cat and that the original owner had started a campaign to retrieve him. However, the story was later revealed to be a hoax, and no such owner nor campaign existed. David Cameron has said that Larry is a "bit nervous" around men, speculating that, since Larry was a rescue cat, this may be due to negative experiences in his past. Cameron mentioned U.S. President Barack Obama is an apparent exception to this fear saying, "Funnily enough he liked Obama. Obama gave him a stroke and he was all right with Obama." Unlike his predecessors since 1929, Larry's upkeep is not funded by tax payers but paid for by the staff of 10 Downing Street. Fund raising events to pay for his food are believed to have included a quiz night for Downing Street staff held in the state rooms. Larry's exploits and observations on life at Number 10 have now become the subject of a weekly cartoon in The Sunday Express drawn by cartoonist Ted Harrison.
In late February 2011, it was reported that anonymous sources were briefing against Larry saying "there is a distinct lack of killer instinct." However, a senior Downing Street spokesman said that it was too early to make judgements and that Larry hadn't even been taken to visit his main work area in case he ran away. He finally made his first kill – a mouse – on 22 April 2011. On 9 September 2011, Larry was spotted swiping at a mouse, known as "Mandy", who then escaped under a bush. On 14 November 2011, Larry's position came under pressure, as it emerged that he was spending more time sleeping, and spending time in the company of a female cat, Maisie, than actually hunting for mice. The cat's position was said to be "unassailable", even though it emerged that the Prime Minister had resorted to throwing a piece of cutlery at a mouse during a cabinet dinner, in an ineffectual attempt to kill it. The Prime Minister's spokesman rejected calls for Larry's resignation, stating that "Larry brings a lot of pleasure to a lot of people".
On 16 November 2011, Larry courted further controversy by sleeping for several hours as the entire cabinet traipsed in and out of Downing Street for a meeting. However Larry's apparent laziness was subsequently favourably compared with rival Freya's enthusiasm for top secret places such as the command centre during a military exercise which led to possibly tongue in cheek allegations of "dastardly foreign espionage." On 27 November 2011, it was reported that Larry had been banned from the Prime Minister's quarters in 10 Downing Street as his fur was ruining the Prime Minister's fresh suits.
Second year in Downing Street
On 15 February 2012, a party was held in Larry's honour to celebrate his first year in the office of Chief Mouser. His press officer reminded the public that as well as being Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, "Larry spends his days greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defences, and testing antique furniture for napping quality. He has captured the hearts of the Great British public and the press teams often camped outside the front door. In turn the nation sends him gifts and treats daily." Also, coinciding with his first anniversary, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home revealed that Larry's popularity had resulted in a surge of 15% more people adopting cats.
On 24 April 2012, Larry returned to the news for his antics while waiting to be admitted to 10 Downing Street, and during the summer was featured in the newspapers on more than one occasion, with photographs showing him sleeping. Larry threw himself wholeheartedly into the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, taking a particular interest in the bunting decorating 10 Downing Street in June. On 24 June, George Osborne was reunited with his long lost cat Freya, who moved into 11 Downing Street. Freya and Larry are reported to have rapidly established cordial relations.
On 28 August 2012, to wide acclaim, Larry made his first killing of a mouse in public, dumping the corpse on the lawn in front of Number 10 to garner maximum publicity. In the September 2012 cabinet reshuffle, it was reported that Larry had retained his position as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. However, the reprieve seemed short-lived as Larry was reported to have been sacked and replaced by Freya, but despite this on 26 September Larry took shelter in the door of 10 Downing Street from the autumnal storms.
The confrontation with Freya over the prestigious chief mouser position came to a head in October as the two cats had a violent fight that had to be broken up by the police. Freya was reported to be the more dominant cat and more effective mouser, reportedly because her days as a stray had "hardened" her. However, Larry's spokeswoman insisted that the two tabbies were able to "co-exist".
Third year in Downing Street
On 15 February 2013, Larry's birthday was celebrated. It was also announced that Larry is supporting ZSL London Zoo's campaign to support Sumatran tiger conservation, and was pictured with a tiger cat toy along with a birthday card from ZSL London Zoo. A week later, a cat-proof barrier was erected to prevent Larry and his neighbour Freya from getting into the Foreign Office; however, public pressure forced William Hague to order that the barrier be demolished.
In June 2013 it was reported that Larry was considering running for London mayor. In July 2013, Larry was prowling the streets and was hesitant to enter 10 Downing Street with David Cameron, so had to be coaxed in.
In September 2013, tensions were reportedly growing between Cameron and Larry. It was reported that Cameron was growing fed up with his suit getting covered in hair, while visitors to the Prime Minister’s official residence were met with the smell of cat food badly disguised by cheap air freshener. The Camerons were said to not like the Downing Street cat, Larry, amid suggestions that the pet is a public relations prop. However, a spokesman for the Prime Minister insisting that Cameron and Larry get on 'purr-fectly well'. Nevertheless, bookmakers Ladbrokes make Cameron the odds-on (1/2) favourite to leave Downing Street first, with Larry as the 6/4 outsider. In October 2013 it was reported that government spin doctors were briefing against Larry, and that in fact Larry had caught four mice in two weeks and that one staff member had rescued a mouse from Larry's clutches.
Fourth year in Downing Street
On 15 February 2014, Larry's birthday was celebrated. It was announced that neighbour George Osborne had brought in a pet dog, Lola, in a new power struggle at Downing Street. Aides announced that Lola got on well with both Larry and Freya, but briefed against Larry by saying that Freya "is just a bit more efficient than Larry when it comes to mouse-catching". In March 2014, the Prime Minister was called to an emergency meeting about the Ukraine crises so Larry stood in and hosted KM Group editorial apprentice Dan Wright in Downing Street. It was also reported that Larry entered regular fights with Freya. Following Larry's initial hosting success, he was enlisted to greet opponents of Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to cut its library service.
In May 2014, Larry continued to take on responsibilities for entertaining guests as he prove to be a more popular host than David Cameron to a visiting party from King's School in Mannamead. Later in May it was reported that Larry had re-established himself as the top cat on Downing Street, forcing Freya, to flee, temporarily joining the ranks of the homeless. Freya was later chauffeur driven home by a member of Osborne's staff the following day, carrying a request to the Chancellor not to cut homeless services further. In the July 2014 cabinet reshuffle, Larry retained his position of Chief Mouser. Later that week Larry was photographed relaxing in the sunshine during a heat wave. The Downing Street friction between Larry and Freya came to a boil in August, when after Freya was hit by a car and injured, Larry was reported to "not seem bothered". In November 2014, Freya was permanently exiled from Downing Street, leaving Larry with the sole mousing responsibility. In December 2014 Larry hosted a visit from patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital. To mark the end of 2014 a series of photographs to chronicle Larry's career in Downing Street was published. In February 2015 Larry made his modelling debut as he featured on an artwork installed on the door to Downing Street.
Fifth year in Downing Street
Larry's birthday was celebrated on 15 February 2015. The next day Larry was back to work as he hosted a round table discussion of Caremakers.
Awards and recognition
A book, written in character as Larry, "Larry Diaries: Downing Street – the First 100 Days" was released in 2011. A picture gallery to celebrate Larry's first two years in office was produced by the Daily Telegraph.
- Glen Oglaza "The Cat's Whiskers", Sky News, 15 February 2011.
- "Larry the No 10 cat drafted in as official rat catcher of Downing Street", Daily Mail (website), 15 February 2011.
- McConnell, Mary (28 December 2011). "The one who hasn't got the cream: Larry the Downing Street cat barred from Cameron's new apartment". Daily Mail (London).
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- [dead link]
- Enoch, Nick (24 April 2012). "Let me in or I'll get the boss to fire you! Larry the Downing Street cat can't wait for the door to open so he can escape the cold". Daily Mail (London).
- Sims, Paul (24 May 2012). "After 'Chillax' Dave, now Larry the Downing Street cat does a spot of relaxing as he takes a break from mouse-catching duties". Daily Mail (London).
- Garland, Ian; Roberts, Hannah (26 June 2012). "Surely it can't be that bad in Number 10: Larry the cat lies down in front of Downing Street traffic". Daily Mail (London).
- Wilkes, David (1 June 2012). "A jubilant nation shrugs off the showers as the cling film's torn off the cucumber sandwiches at 10,000 street parties". Daily Mail (London).
- Walters, Simon (23 June 2012). "Chancellor George Osborne reunited with fat cat Freya who disappeared three years ago". Daily Mail (London).
- Bond, Anthony (11 July 2012). "Freya the cat prowls Downing Street for the first time... and there's no sign of a scrap with the Prime Minister's pet Larry". Daily Mail (London).
- [dead link]
- Warner, Gerald (9 September 2012). "Gerald Warner: Cabinet of convenience with a cat’s chance in hell". The Scotsman.
- "Larry the Downing Street cat sacked as Number 10's chief mouse catcher after chillaxing too much on the job". Daily Mail (London). 16 September 2012.
- "Autumn weather: torrential rain causes flooding in parts of Britain". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Prince, Rosa (16 October 2012). "Police called to break up violent cat fight in Downing Street". The Daily Telegraph (London).
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- Parkinson, Justin (16 October 2012). "Downing Street denies Cameron and Osborne cat feud". BBC News.
- Number 10 (15 February 2013). "Larry and his toy Tiger from ZSL London Zoo". Flickr.
- Evans, Becky (21 February 2013). "Foreign Office goes on the defensive against No10 as it installs plastic 'riot shield' to stop Larry the cat from getting into building". Daily Mail (London).
- "I hear some hip cat's running for mayor in Mexico. That gives me an idea". The Guardian (London). 20 June 2013.
- "Busy day at the office, Prime Minister? Cameron finds time to take his daughter (and dolly) for a scoot to nursery". Daily Mail (London). 16 July 2013.
- Chorley, Matt (28 September 2013). "'We get on purr-fectly': Cameron insists he is feline fine about Larry the Cat amid rumours he is not welcome in Number 10". Daily Mail (London).
- David Cameron denies family hates No 10's cat. 3 News NZ. 30 September 2013.
- McSmith, Andy (18 October 2013). "Andy McSmith's Diary: Even Larry the cat is not safe from factions in Downing Street". The Independent (London).
- Abraham, Tamara; Barrow, Becky (3 February 2014). "Stand-off in Downing Street: Chancellor tweets picture of his new puppy and family cat in power struggle". Daily Mail (London).
- "KM Group editorial apprentice Dan Wright misses out on date with Prime Minister David Cameron at National Apprenticeship Week event in Downing Street". KentOnline. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- Chorley, Matt (13 March 2014). "No fat cats in Parliament: MPs told they can't keep a puss to deal with mice because it would fill up on treats and leftovers". Daily Mail (London).
- Seymour, David (8 April 2014). "Campaigners descend on capital in fight against library cuts". Sleaford Standard. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Herald, Plymouth (3 April 2014). "School meets PM on mystery tour". Plymouth Herald. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "George Osborne's cat rescued by homelessness worker". BBC news. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
- Prynne, Miranda (27 May 2014). "George Osborne's cat chauffeur-driven home after getting lost in London". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 29 May 2014.
- "Cameron’s Cabinet Reshuffle: Who’s In And Who’s Out". Londonist. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Getty Images: Temperatures Soar To Highest Of The Year". Google.com. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Culzac, Natasha (8 August 2014). "George Osborne's cat Freya recovering at the vets after being hit by car". The Independent (London). Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "The home where the only pay is happiness". The Daily Telegraph (London). 14 October 2012.
- James Robinson (Author). "The Larry Diaries: Downing Street - the First 100 Days: Amazon.co.uk: James Robinson: Books". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "In pictures: David Cameron's cat - Larry, Chief Mouser of Downing Street". The Daily Telegraph (London). 3 November 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
- Whittaker, Zack (30 July 2012). "Google Street View pays visit to U.K. prime minister". CNet. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
Title last held bySybil
|Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office