Larry (cat)

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Larry Cameron
Larry Chief Mouser.jpg
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
Assumed office
15 February 2011
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sybil
Personal details
Born c. January 2007 (age 8)
London, United Kingdom

Larry Cameron is the 10 Downing Street cat and is Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. Larry is a brown and white tabby, believed to have been born c. January 2007.

First year in Downing Street[edit]

Larry is a rescue cat from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and was chosen by Downing Street staff.[1] 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.[2] After moving into Downing Street, Larry immediately courted controversy by taking a swipe at ITV News reporter Lucy Manning whilst being required to pose for a news item.[3]

He has been described by Downing Street sources as a "good ratter" and as having "a high chase-drive and hunting instinct".[4] 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.[5][6] However, the story was later revealed to be a hoax, and no such owner nor campaign existed.[7] 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 that U.S. President Barack Obama is an apparent exception to this fear: he said, "Funnily enough he liked Obama. Obama gave him a stroke and he was all right with Obama."[8] Unlike his predecessors since 1929, Larry's upkeep is funded not by taxpayers but by the staff of 10 Downing Street.[9] 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.[10] Larry's exploits and observations on life at Number 10 became 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."[11] 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.[11] He finally made his first kill – a mouse – on 22 April 2011.[12] On 9 September 2011, Larry was spotted swiping at a mouse, referred to as "Mandy", which then escaped under a bush.[13] 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,[14] 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.[14] The Prime Minister's spokesman rejected calls for Larry's resignation, stating that "Larry brings a lot of pleasure to a lot of people".[15]

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.[14] 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."[16] 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.[3]

Second year in Downing Street[edit]

On 15 February 2012, a party was held in Larry's honour to celebrate his first year in the office of Chief Mouser.[17] 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."[18] 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.[19]

On 24 April 2012, Larry returned to the news due to his antics while waiting to be admitted to 10 Downing Street,[20] and during the summer he was featured in the newspapers more than once, with photographs showing him sleeping.[21][22] Larry threw himself wholeheartedly into the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II,[23] 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,[24][25] who moved into 11 Downing Street. Freya and Larry are reported to have rapidly established cordial relations.[24]

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.[26] In the September 2012 cabinet reshuffle, it was reported that Larry had retained his position as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.[27] However, the reprieve seemed short-lived as Larry was reported to have been sacked and replaced by Freya,[28] but despite this on 26 September Larry took shelter from the autumnal storms in the door of 10 Downing Street.[29]

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.[30] Freya was reported to be the more dominant cat and more effective mouser, reportedly because her days as a stray had "hardened" her.[31] However, Larry's spokeswoman insisted that the two tabbies were able to "co-exist".[32]

Third year in Downing Street[edit]

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.[33] A week later, a cat-proof barrier was erected to prevent Larry and his neighbour Freya from getting into the Foreign Office;[34] however, public pressure forced William Hague to order that the barrier be demolished.[34]

In June 2013 it was reported that Larry was considering running for London mayor.[35] 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.[36]

In September 2013, tensions were reportedly growing between Cameron and Larry.[37] 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 not to like Larry, amid suggestions that the pet is a public relations prop. However, a spokesman for the Prime Minister insisted that Cameron and Larry get on 'purr-fectly well'.[38] Nevertheless, bookmakers Ladbrokes made 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.[39]

Fourth year in Downing Street[edit]

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".[40] In March 2014, the Prime Minister was called to an emergency meeting about the Ukraine crisis, so Larry stood in and hosted[clarification needed] KM Group editorial apprentice Dan Wright in Downing Street.[41] It was also reported that Larry entered regular fights with Freya.[42] Following Larry's initial hosting success, he was enlisted to greet opponents of Lincolnshire County Council's decision to cut its library service.[43]

In May 2014, Larry continued to take on responsibilities for entertaining guests, as he proved to be a more popular host than David Cameron for a visiting party from King's School in Mannamead.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46] In the July 2014 cabinet reshuffle, Larry retained his position of Chief Mouser.[47] Later that week Larry was photographed relaxing in the sunshine during a heat wave.[48] The Downing Street friction between Larry and Freya came to the boil in August: after Freya was hit by a car and injured, Larry was reported "not to seem bothered".[49] In November 2014, Freya was permanently exiled from Downing Street, leaving Larry with the sole mousing responsibility.[50] In December 2014 Larry hosted a visit from patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital.[51] To mark the end of 2014 a series of photographs chronicling Larry's career in Downing Street was published.[52] In February 2015 Larry made his modelling debut as he featured on an artwork installed on the door of 10 Downing Street.[53][54]

Fifth year in Downing Street[edit]

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.[55] Following the March murder of a dog at Crufts, David Cameron doubled security measures around Larry.[56] Later in the month Samantha Cameron had her face painted as Larry for Comic Relief.[57] On the first day of the general election campaign, Larry defended Downing Street from a police sniffer dog, Bailey.[58] With the General Election going on Larry undertook additional duties, helping out in foreign relations by sending President Obama's dog, Bo, a chew toy.[59] It was also reported that David Cameron's daughter, Florence, chases Larry around the house.[60] During the general election campaign, the Labour Party confirmed that in the event of Ed Miliband being the next Prime Minister that Larry would remain as Chief Mouser.[61]

On the day of the general election it was announced that Larry's seat on the cabinet was secure.[62] With the absence of a prime minister, Larry was forced to guard Downing Street from a fox.[63] Following this, Larry patiently waited for the other results of the general election to be announced.[64] Larry had to be dragged back into Number 10 by a police officer for the first cabinet meeting of the new Conservative government.[65] On 28 May Larry was criticised after he had failed to defend the home of the Prime Minister from an invading heron.[66] On 29 May it was reported that Larry had been given a crocheted blanket by a member of the public, in his thank you letter Larry sent a photo of himself relaxing on the blanket outside of 10 Downing Street.[67]

On 4 July a mouse ran across the sofa in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's office, sending one official screaming from the room. The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock eventually cornered the mouse, trapping it in a brown paper sandwich bag. The incident increased pressure on Larry's chief mouser position as rumours spread that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take over the Chief Mouser position.[68] Just 4 days later Larry bounced back as the popular host to visitors from Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary School.[69] However, in August Larry again came under scrutiny as a staff member described Larry as "a real annoyance".[70] Larry blocked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from entering Number 10, so Larry had to be kicked into the doorway by a policeman.[71] In November Larry bounced back by inviting Sylvia Barry to Downing Street to thank her for crocheting a gift blanket.[72]

On 1 December 2015 Larry launched the "Text Santa appeal" with the help of Phillip Schofield.[73]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Larry was honoured with a blue plaque at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in October 2012.[74]

Popular culture[edit]

A book, written in character as Larry, Larry Diaries: Downing Street – the First 100 Days by former Guardian journalist James Robinson was published in 2011.[19] A picture gallery to celebrate Larry's first two years in office was produced by The Daily Telegraph.[75]

In 2012, Larry was visible on the Google Street View of Number 10, asleep next to the door.[76]


  1. ^ Glen Oglaza "The Cat's Whiskers", Sky News, 15 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Larry the No 10 cat drafted in as official rat catcher of Downing Street", Daily Mail (website), 15 February 2011.
  3. ^ a b 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). 
  4. ^ "Larry the cat to join David Cameron in Downing Street". BBC News. 15 February 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  5. ^ Nissim, Mayer (23 February 2011). "David Cameron 'stole cat for Number 10'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  6. ^ "But that's my auntisurrey universitye's cat: Man's claim on 'stray' No 10 ratcatcher (… and there's a Facebook campaign to get him back)". Daily Mail (London). 23 February 2011. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Lewis, Paul (23 February 2011). "Churnalism or news? How PRs have taken over the media". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "Number 10 cat Larry catches three mice". BBC News. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Prince, Rosa (15 February 2011). "Larry the cat is installed as Downing Street Chief Mouser". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Maev Kennedy (7 September 2011). "Larry the cat fundraiser quiz night to be held at No 10". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Prince, Rosa (28 February 2011). "Downing Street defends Larry the cat from anonymous briefing". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  12. ^ Stratton, Allegra (24 April 2011). "Politics,UK news". The Guardian (London). 
  13. ^ Harris, Paul (9 September 2011). "Larry the No10 cat fails his first test as PM (prime mouser)". Daily Mail (London). 
  14. ^ a b c "Downing Street cat Larry caught napping". BBC News. 15 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "Downing Street cat Larry backed despite No 10 mice". BBC News. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Dixon, Hayley (10 June 2013). "Could George Osborne's cat be the purr-fect spy?". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Larry The Downing Street Cat Celebrates One Year As 'Chief Mouser'". Huffington Post. 15 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Larry, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office". 
  19. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  20. ^ 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). 
  21. ^ 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). 
  22. ^ 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). 
  23. ^ 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). 
  24. ^ a b Walters, Simon (23 June 2012). "Chancellor George Osborne reunited with fat cat Freya who disappeared three years ago". Daily Mail (London). 
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  27. ^ Warner, Gerald (9 September 2012). "Gerald Warner: Cabinet of convenience with a cat's chance in hell". The Scotsman. 
  28. ^ "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. 
  29. ^ "Autumn weather: torrential rain causes flooding in parts of Britain". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  30. ^ Prince, Rosa (16 October 2012). "Police called to break up violent cat fight in Downing Street". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  31. ^ Parkinson, Justin (16 October 2012). "Downing Street denies Cameron and Osborne cat feud". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  32. ^ Parkinson, Justin (16 October 2012). "Downing Street denies Cameron and Osborne cat feud". BBC News. 
  33. ^ Number 10 (15 February 2013). "Larry and his toy Tiger from ZSL London Zoo". Flickr. 
  34. ^ a b 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). 
  35. ^ "I hear some hip cat's running for mayor in Mexico. That gives me an idea". The Guardian (London). 20 June 2013. 
  36. ^ "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. 
  37. ^ 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). 
  38. ^ David Cameron denies family hates No 10's cat. 3 News NZ. 30 September 2013.
  39. ^ McSmith, Andy (18 October 2013). "Andy McSmith's Diary: Even Larry the cat is not safe from factions in Downing Street". The Independent (London). 
  40. ^ 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). 
  41. ^ "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. 
  42. ^ 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). 
  43. ^ Seymour, David (8 April 2014). "Campaigners descend on capital in fight against library cuts". Sleaford Standard. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  44. ^ Herald, Plymouth (3 April 2014). "School meets PM on mystery tour". Plymouth Herald. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
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  46. ^ 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. 
  47. ^ "Cameron’s Cabinet Reshuffle: Who’s In And Who’s Out". Londonist. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  48. ^ "Getty Images: Temperatures Soar To Highest Of The Year". 16 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  49. ^ 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. 
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  74. ^ "The home where the only pay is happiness". The Daily Telegraph (London). 14 October 2012. 
  75. ^ "In pictures: David Cameron's cat - Larry, Chief Mouser of Downing Street". The Daily Telegraph (London). 3 November 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  76. ^ Whittaker, Zack (30 July 2012). "Google Street View pays visit to U.K. prime minister". CNet. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

Title last held by
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
With: Freya