In Downing Street, Larry the cat awaits Prime Minister Starmer along with Jojo the cat, Bear the hamster and maybe even a dog.

English prime ministers come and go, but Larry remains. In the hours of great change in British politics, one thing at the heart of government has remained the same: Larry, the Downing Street cat. The grey and white feline, who holds the official title of Chief Mouse of the Cabinet Office, has never failed to make his presence felt at the famous shiny black door of No. 10, awaiting the arrival of its sixth prime minister: Keir Starmer, the Labour Party member who ended the long Conservative era at the helm that began in 2010, shortly before the cat arrived home on the famous London street.

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On the unofficial @Number10cat profile of the official? Me,” then again, referring to the outgoing prime minister’s family, he wrote: “Does anyone know a good locksmith? …” and finally: “Hope you’re good at solving problems…” commenting on a photo of Starmer shaking hands with King Charles.

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Larry has been a resident of the House of Commons since 2011, when he was adopted by Prime Minister David Cameron from nearby Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. An unconventional barometer of the state of British politics, he later served under Prime Ministers Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak during a turbulent period of Conservative-led governments. Larry is an honorary member of the civil service who, as previously mentioned, holds the official title of “Chief Rat”, describing his duties as “welcoming guests into the house, inspecting security defences and testing the quality of antique furniture”.

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With Rishi Sunak’s departure, he will also be leaving his Labrador retriever Nova, who often had to put up with the assertive personality of the good-natured Larry. But the new tenant could decide to increase the “animal” stake in Downing Street: if Sir Keir decides to move out of his London home entirely, he could bring with him Jojo the cat, who is loved by Starmer’s two teenage children and is somewhat spoiled (in a BBC interview, the Labour MP admitted that Jojo “has more respect than me” in the house) and the hamster Bear. But surprisingly, Larry could also find himself dealing with a dog: Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, said Sir Keir had promised his teenage children a dog, something the current prime minister had hinted at during the election campaign.

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In an interview with the Radio Times earlier this week, Sir Keir was asked whether he would follow the example of Boris Johnson, who in 2019 brought in Dilyn, a Jack Russell puppy who was adopted from a shelter and then had to be removed because he could not contain his “romantic” motives and was always “on people’s feet”).

“Well, this is a children’s campaign,” Sir Keir said with a laugh. “Again, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but our children have been campaigning for a dog for a number of years now and they’re accelerating in the final days of the year. This campaign, so we’ll see, obviously, I hope they don’t get the shots or listen to this interview, because they’ll use it as evidence for their campaign.” Asked if her children had “already decided on a breed”, she replied: “We’ve been through it all already. German Shepherd is the favourite at the moment, although there are a range of possibilities, so we’ll see. But as I said, I’m entering a dangerous area now because if my son and daughter get these shots, I’ll be facing them when I get back to them.”

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However, as Larry has clearly demonstrated in the past, he is not afraid of rivals in his area and is ready to defend it with his claws despite his advanced age as a veteran. After all, he already had the upper hand at the time of the rivalry that arose with Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat for a few years, who then retired in 2020 and retreated to the countryside. In some videos, he was seen chasing a fox that had allowed itself into Downing Street.

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