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Purr-fect or PR-fect? What feuding Downing Street cats can teach us about UK politics

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Gone are the innocent days when a beloved pet would appear in the corner of an official photo of a head of state, giving the owner an otherwise lacking human edge. The current generation of political cats are social media powerhouses, with tens of thousands of followers, daily updates, and narratives to rival those of Kanye, Kim, and Taylor Swift.

Although Gordon Brown’s cabinet attempted to revive the tradition with Sybil, who actually belonged to Chancellor Alastair Darling and didn’t really like Brown, it was Larry the cat who marked the glorious return of the Chief Mouser as a media fixture, starting from 2011.

The now 9-year-old rescue cat was bigged up as a fearsome hunting beast, only to take a year to capture its first mouse, as stories focused on his laziness and propensity for spending time with the opposite sex.

During David Cameron’s time in office, there had been insinuations that the PM and his wife were not particularly fond of the feline, banishing him from their flat and referring to Larry as “it” and not “he.”

Larry with David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Barack Obama, President of the United States. © Pete Souza
Larry with David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Barack Obama, President of the United States. © Pete Souza / Wikipedia

However, cutting an increasingly sympathetic and even tragic figure in the days after Brexit, Cameron took a “proof pic”with Larry sitting on his lap on his very final day in office, declaring that he “loved” the moggy.

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