Larry the cat staying put in 10 Downing Street

Larry the Downing Street cat outside 10 Downing Street in London on July 12, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS
Larry, the Downing Street cat looks up at Theresa May as she arrives at 10 Downing Street on July 12, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Larry the Downing Street cat outside 10 Downing Street in London on July 12, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron is leaving his official 10 Downing Street on Wednesday (July 13) to make way for Mrs Theresa May, but one resident is staying put: Larry the cat.

Larry has been stalking the corridors of power since 2011, when he was brought into the prime minister's office to handle pest control affairs.

He had a lingering look up at Mrs May as she entered Number 10 on Tuesday for Mr Cameron's final cabinet meeting as prime minister.

And he did not seem perturbed by her trademark leopard-print kitten-heel shoes.

There had been fears that Larry would be following the Camerons out of the door when Mrs May takes over as prime minister.

But while government members nervously await their fate, officials insisted the nine-year-old brown and white tabby was staying on and would survive Mrs May's forthcoming reshuffle.

"It's a civil servant's cat and does not belong to the Camerons," a Cabinet Office spokesman said. "He will be staying."

Larry, a rescue cat, was brought into Downing Street after a rat was spotted in two television news bulletins scurrying around outside the famous black door of the prime minister's residence.

However, Larry's work rate has been called into question.

Downing Street says the nation sends him daily gifts and treats but he spends much of his time "testing antique furniture for napping quality".

There have been resident mice-fighting cats in Downing Street since the 1920s. Some have even been given the title of "chief mouser to the Cabinet Office" and put on the state payroll.

The legendary Humphrey, a stray who took up residence under prime minister Margaret Thatcher and outstayed John Major, was sent into retirement in 1997 by Mr Tony Blair, amid persistent speculation that his wife Cherie forced him out.

Humphrey was on the payroll, receiving £100 ($179) a year from the Cabinet Office budget.

Mr Cameron's six-year government has tried to reduce Britain's budget deficit and Larry's upkeep is now paid for by Downing Street staff.

Larry has been seen in several stand-offs with Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat brought in in April.

He is also thought to have difficult relations with Freya, the family cat of Finance Minister George Osborne.

Mr Osborne's official residence is next door at 11 Downing Street and Freya would be on the move if Mrs May shifts him from his Treasury post.

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