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Larry the Cat outlasts fourth U.K. prime minister

Larry the Cat in a Union flag bow-tie in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street on April 28, 2011.
James Glossop
WPA Pool/Getty Images
Larry the Cat in a Union flag bow-tie in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street on April 28, 2011.

Britain's prime ministers may come and go, but Larry the Cat is here to stay.

The 15-year-old tabby dutifully serves as Chief Mouser of No. 10 Downing Street, the residence and home office of Britain's prime minister, and where countless political decisions affecting the country are made. Larry outlasted prime ministers David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and, as of Thursday, the six-week tenure of Liz Truss.

"The King has asked me to become Prime Minister because this nonsense has gone on long enough," Larry the Cat wrote in a now viral tweet from an unofficial account hours before Truss announced her resignation.

And in a period of shaky political leadership, Larry's steady tenure led to an enormous loyal following among British citizens. His presence at 10 Downing Street often leads to brief appearances in historical moments — including taking a nap underneath a limo that extended Donald Trump's visit in 2019.

But Larry's record isn't completely spotless, either. A 2016 visit to the vet put his health into question while a 2011 mouse sighting put the integrity of his work into question.

But Larry seems to have redeemed himself in the eyes of the public: In the days leading up to Truss announcing her resignation, a video of the cat chasing a fox — much larger than any mouse — away from the prime minister headquarters amazed fans.

His appointment at 10 Downing Street began on Feb. 15, 2011, after TV cameras spotted a rat outside the entrance. The U.K. Cabinet, under Cameron, rescued the cat from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and officially appointed him as Chief Mouser, according to the U.K. government website.

And as the British public awaits the identity of its fifth prime minister in just six years, Larry is vowing that he will remain in his position for as long as he can.

"Lots of people asking whether it's Liz Truss or Jeremy Hunt who's in charge," his unofficial account posted on Monday. "It's neither. I am. I'll be here long after they're both gone."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.