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Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office

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#1 bubskitkat

Posted 03 April 2019 - 07:15 PM

The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office is the title of the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street. Only four cats, Humphrey, Sybil, Larry and Freya, have been given the title officially;[1][2][not in citation given] other cats were given this title affectionately, usually by the British press. There has been a resident Treasury or Downing Street cat employed as a mouser and pet since the reign of Henry VIII,[3] when Cardinal Wolsey, who assumed office in 1515, placed his cat by his side while acting in his judicial capacity as Lord Chancellor.[4]

Official records released into the public domain on 4 January 2005 as part of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 only date back to 3 June 1929,[5][6] when A.E. Banham at the Treasury authorised the Office Keeper "to spend 1d a day from petty cash towards the maintenance of an efficient cat".[7] In April 1932, the weekly allowance was increased to 1s 6d. By the twenty-first century, the mouser was costing £100 per annum.[8] The cats do not necessarily belong to the Prime Minister in residence and it is rare for the Chief Mouser's term of office to coincide with that of a Prime Minister.[9] The cat with the longest known tenure at Downing Street is Wilberforce, who served for thirteen years under Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, and Margaret Thatcher.

The post has been held by Larry, since 2011.[1] The departure of the previous incumbent, Sybil, was in January 2009. Sybil, who began her tenure on 11 September 2007, was the first mouser for ten years following the retirement of her predecessor Humphrey in 1997. Sybil was owned by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, who lived in 10 Downing Street while the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, lived in the larger 11 Downing Street.[10][11] It was reported that Sybil did not settle in London, and returned to Scotland to live with a friend of the Darlings.[12] Sybil died on 27 July 2009.[13][14]

In January 2011, rats were seen in Downing Street, "scurrying across the steps of Number 10 Downing Street for the second time during a TV news report," according to ITN.[15] There being no incumbent Chief Mouser at that time, the Prime Minister's spokesman said there were "no plans" for a cat to be brought in to tackle the problem;[16] however, the following day, newspapers reported that the spokesman had said there was a "pro-cat faction" within Downing Street, leading to speculation that a replacement might indeed be brought in to deal with the problem.[16] On 14 February 2011, it was reported that a cat called "Larry" had been brought in to address the problem.[17] The London Evening Standard reported that the cat had been selected by David Cameron and his family, from those at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.[17]

In September 2012, it was reported that Prime Minister David Cameron had sacked Larry from the post of Chief Mouser, in favour of Chancellor George Osborne's tabby cat, Freya, as the new Chief Mouser to patrol Numbers 10, 11, and 12. Some sources described the new arrangement as a "job share" to avoid any hurt feelings.[18] Chief Mousers in the past have overlapped, or been phased in – though the position can and has remained vacant for extended periods of time. Larry is the only Chief Mouser listed on the official web site for Number 10.[1] In November 2014 Freya was exiled from Downing Street leaving Larry as the Chief Mouser.[19]

Partisanship study involving the Chief Mouser

Robert Ford, a political scientist at the University of Manchester, reported on a YouGov survey on partisan reactions to the Downing Street cats. Participants in the survey were shown a picture of Humphrey, the Chief Mouser appointed by Margaret Thatcher, and told that he was either Thatcher's cat or Tony Blair's cat. Affinity for the cat divided along partisan lines: Conservative voters liked the cat far more when they were told he was Thatcher's and Labour voters liked the cat far more when they were told he was Blair's. Ford concludes that partisanship shapes reactions to everything a politician does, however trivial, similar to the halo effect (and a reverse "forked tail effect") observed by psychologists.[20]

#2 kadoodle

Posted 03 April 2019 - 08:14 PM

Why was Freya exiled?

#3 bubskitkat

Posted 03 April 2019 - 08:34 PM

Freya at number 10
Freya has become one of 100,000 cats employed by the Government to keep the number of mice down.[5] On October 16 2012, police had to break up a fight between Larry and Freya outside Number 10. Rosa Prince from The Daily Telegraph reported that Freya "appeared to have the best of the confrontation".[6] The Prime Minister's spokeswoman stated that Freya and Larry were able to "co-exist" and added that she would not comment further on the two cats' adventures.[7]

In May 2014, Freya strayed over a mile from Downing Street and had to be rescued and returned by a charity worker.[8] In August 2014, Freya was hit by a car in Whitehall and was subsequently treated by a vet. George Osborne said he was "very grateful" to those who came to the aid of his pet.[9] Following these events, Freya was sent to the Kent Countryside to allow her to exercise her desire to roam.[10]

#4 Sugarplum Poobah

Posted 03 April 2019 - 09:01 PM

I can't believe you didn't include pics!

This is one of my favourites : :):


ETA there's lots on YouTube -- Downing Street has journos camped out all the time and they have a LOT of downtime so the cats are entertainment

Edited by Nasty Poobah, 03 April 2019 - 09:07 PM.

#5 kadoodle

Posted 03 April 2019 - 09:47 PM

Police had to break the fight up? Wow.

#6 bubskitkat

Posted 04 April 2019 - 05:40 AM

These cats also have Twitter and Instagram accounts.

An official memo was sent to all staff working in an office of parliament to stop feeding the cat as its efficiency level of mouse and rat catching had decreased.

Yes it is someone’s job to analyse the statistics of the cats efficiency levels.

There are other Houses of Parliament demanding their rights to have a chief mouser.

#7 Mose

Posted 04 April 2019 - 06:31 AM

Can the cats be in charge of Brexit?  Could work better than the current approach...

#8 bubskitkat

Posted 04 April 2019 - 06:06 PM

Disneyland and other theme parks also have chief mousers but paws are off Mickey & mini mouse!

The cats are strays that wonder into the parks and are neutered and feed at cat feeding stations hidden around the parks.

Their purpose of being there is to keep down the rats & mice.

At Europa park in Europe I was shocked to see a big tabby cat sunning it’s self in the middle of a kids drive a mini car around a track ride.

#9 kadoodle

Posted 04 April 2019 - 08:03 PM

The schools I worked at all had cats who lived there. It seems to be an English thing to just have roaming moggies on the payroll.

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