Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Larry the No 10 cat drafted in as official rat catcher of Downing Street


Larry negotiates the stairs of Number 10 past pictures of the previous Prime Ministers

News reached the rodent community just after midday. In the sewers beneath Westminster, along the rat-runs that criss-cross the Number 10 lawn, and in every dark corner of the corridors of power, it set tiny hearts a-beating.

Downing Street had a new cat. Not just any cat, either.

This was the one they called the rat-catcher. And from the moment Larry the white-and-tabby tom crossed the threshold yesterday, it was probably a bad day to be vermin.

A new start: Larry was delivered by van yesterday afternoon

True blue: Larry the cat is the latest official appointment to Downing Street

Not since the fearsome Humphrey patrolled Whitehall had so much scampering been provoked among Rattus norvegicus and his increasingly marauding comrades.

See how the cat’s eyes are set close together, like a hunter’s. Tremble at the sight of those pin-sharp claws padding over the Axminster as he prowls his new terrain.

Take cover as he licks his lips at the prospect of a seek-and-destroy mission on the personal orders of the Prime Minister.

Yet a question mark hung over the appointment of the former stray yesterday as he was formally installed as government ratter-in-chief. Did his time on the street give him the political mettle to be a killer? Or is he just a homely moggy looking for a comfy life at the nation’s most famous address?

The signs were not encouraging. First on Larry’s list of things to do, apparently, was to curl up and take a snooze. Photographers and a TV crew poised to record his histori

Cat nap: First on Larry's list of things to do was to curl up and take a snooze

Nothing is known about Larry’s past, save that he is aged about four and was rescued early in January after apparently living rough. He was taken to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, neutered, and nursed back to fine fettle by its rehoming team.

When Downing Street asked for a suitably friendly cat to deal with rats scurrying about in the buildings and on live TV broadcasts, the home volunteered Larry. In fairness, he had shown signs of a hunter instinct but his proficiency in the rat-catching department was untested. The nearest he came was to show an interest in some toy mice. Larry, it seemed was more Grayson than Hagman.

Strictly speaking, a coalition government should have two cats, each with a different coat. One could catch rats, the other could just play along and smooch up to important guests. Then again, the pair would probably only fight.

Larry arrived in the passenger seat of a blue van from Battersea and was carried into his new home in a basket shielded by a blanket. Set free, he hid under a table.

A beaming David Cameron declared he was ‘delighted’ to have a cat around the house, adding: ‘I’m sure he will be a great addition to Downing Street and will charm our many visitors.’ (That’s Larry he was talking about, by the way, not Nick Clegg).

But will Larry be up to the job?

Battersea staff described him as lively, confident and sociable, with ‘a strong predatory drive’. Kirsty Walker, head of cats, added: ‘I can definitely see Larry holding his own.’

Last night correspondents purporting to be Larry – and the rats – were busy sending Twitter updates.

DowningStCat tweeted: ‘Having a poke around Dave’s office. Nice deep carpet and wooden furniture.’

No10Rat responded: ‘Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough. Rat-a-touille won’t be on yr menu tonight.’

source: dailymail

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