Cat-in-chief

Who rules the cats of England? Since at least the 1920s, 10 Downing Street has had an official cat: the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.

Larry the Cat
Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
¬†Apparently there have been cats in UK government since Henry VIII, but the official records only stretch back as far as 1929. At that time, there had been a cat in residence at Number 10 for five years (“Treasury Bill”) and another cat had just been added: Peter.

Peter, incredibly, served through the terms of six prime ministers, including Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill – catching mice and living it up on food brought by besotted civil servants. Winston Churchill was a big cat lover, so I can only assume that he shared his dinner too.

The shortest term for a Chief Mouser was Peter’s replacement kitten, Peter II, who was run over by a car. The longest serving Chief Mouser was Wilberforce, who was the resident cat for thirteen years and ended his reign during Margaret Thatcher’s term.

Wilberforce’s replacement was Humphrey, named after the smarmy civil servant in the TV series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. Rumours abounded that Humphrey had a feud with Cherie Blair, the prime minister’s wife, and the tabloids even made the case that she had murdered Humphrey out of spite. British newspapers, sheesh.

The current Chief Mouser is Larry, pictured above with some humans. He, and all of the cats mentioned here, have their own Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia, sheesh.

[Thanks to Gareth E. for suggesting this topic.]

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