Yes, Larry the Cat has outlasted the last three British prime ministers

The cat became Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office at the prime minister’s residence in 2011. Boris Johnson will soon be the third PM to resign since then.
Credit: AP
Larry the Cat, Britain's Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office moves out of the way as Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson enters 10 Downing Street after attending a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in London, Friday, April 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

After months of turmoil within his government that ultimately led to the resignation of much of his cabinet, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he will step down. He says he will remain prime minister until his party, the Conservative Party, names a successor.

In reaction to the news, a popular online video game streamer pointed out in a now-viral tweet that Larry the Cat, the chief mouser of 10 Downing Street, has outlasted the last three prime ministers. “He holds the true power over the country,” the streamer joked.

THE QUESTION

Has Larry the Cat held his official position at the British prime minister’s office longer than the last three prime ministers?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, Larry the Cat will have held his official position at the British prime minister’s office longer than the last three British prime ministers — so long as he continues to be chief mouser after Boris Johnson’s replacement is chosen. There is no apparent effort to fire or replace Larry, and Larry has not expressed any interest in stepping down from his post.

WHAT WE FOUND

Larry the Cat, according to the British government’s page on the history of 10 Downing Street, has been in residence at 10 Downing Street as the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office since Feb. 15, 2011. He is the first cat at Number 10 to be given the official title of chief mouser.

His residence, 10 Downing Street, is the United Kingdom’s equivalent to the White House. British prime ministers have lived at the location since 1735.

In honor of Larry’s first year at the address, Number 10 posted an album of Larry pictures to its Flickr on Feb. 14, 2012.

When Larry moved in in 2011, David Cameron was prime minister. Cameron left the office and residence in July 2016. Since then, Theresa May and Boris Johnson have both been prime ministers of the United Kingdom, the British government’s website confirms. May held office until July 2019, when Johnson took over. All three prime ministers were of the Conservative Party.

Although Johnson has announced his resignation, he hasn’t yet officially stepped down from his role as prime minister. He says he will wait until his party has chosen his successor, much like his predecessor did. It was several weeks between May’s resignation and when Johnson replaced her. Johnson has not yet announced a timetable for the upcoming leadership election.

The BBC says Cameron was responsible for bringing Larry into 10 Downing Street based on a recommendation from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for his mousing skills. After receiving questions doubting his friendly relationship with Larry during his final days as prime minister, Cameron posted a picture of the cat sitting on his lap to Twitter.

Larry’s relationship with the next prime minister, who had hinted she was more of a dog person when she took her office, wasn’t as good, the BBC reported.

“Their relationship is unlikely to have improved after Larry was tactically extracted by police before Mrs. May's resignation speech amid fears he would upstage the departing PM,” the BBC said.

Reuters posted a video of the cat stalking around outside the front door of 10 Downing Street on July 6, 2022. “A reporter asked Downing Street's resident cat Larry if he has asked the prime minister to resign,” Reuters said. 

According to the video’s title, Larry declined to comment.

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