12 TulsaPets • January/February 2022 Chief Mouser Cat Serves British Government by Rowena Mills C ats have had a role in the British government since the early sixteenth century, when Cardinal Thomas Wolsey kept his feline by his side while acting as Lord Chancellor for King Henry VIII. Official records, however, date only to June 3, 1929, when A. E. Banham at the British Treasury Office authorized the office keeper to spend one pence a day toward the “maintenance of an efficient cat” to extermi- nate vermin at No. 10 Downing Street, offi- cial residence of the British prime minister. The salary has been raised gradually to 100 pounds per year, and the current officehold- er is Larry, a brown tabby tuxedo cat. Larry took office on February 15, 2011, when he moved to No. 10 from the Batter- sea Dogs and Cats Home. He is the first cat that the British government has officially named chief mouser to the Cabinet Office, although the press and public had used the title affectionately for many years for previ- ous felines in that role. The chief mouser is a civil servant rather than a personal pet. He remains in office when prime ministers come and go. So far, Larry has served David Cameron, Theresa May, and now Boris Johnson (who brought his dog with him to No. 10). One of the longest-serving mousers at No. 10 was Wilberforce, who worked for four prime ministers, Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, and Margaret Thatcher, and had his portrait painted. Larry has own Twitter feed and loves to upstage official visitors. He was photo- graphed with President Barack Obama at No. 10 in 2011 and with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in 2019. No. 10 Downing Street has no cat door, so Larry, an indoor-outdoor feline, must wait for the policeman on guard to let him in. The Downing Street website says, “Larry spends his days greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defences and testing antique furniture for napping quality. 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 is not known as an aggressive mouser, and a second cat, Freya, served with him in 2012–2014. Previous No. 10 cats and their terms of office were Treasury Bill (Smokey), 1924; Peter, 1929–1946; Peter II, 1946–1947; Peter III (Peter the Great), 1947–1964; Peta (Manninagh KateDhu), 1964–1976; Wilberforce, 1973–1986; Humphrey, 1989–1997; and Sybil 2007–2009. A va- cancy then occurred during the remainder of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s term before Larry filled the breach. The British Home Office, Treasury Of- fice, and Foreign Office also have official mousers. FOCUS ON FELINES Larry, a civil servant of the British government, has been chief mouser to the Cabinet Office for almost 11 years. He works at No. 10 Downing Street, official residence of the prime minister.