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Pet power list: Time Out’s guide to the political animals of Westminster

Written by
Tristan Parker

Cats and dogs and spiders (oh my!) stalk the halls of Westminster, but which ones wield paw-some amounts of power? 


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Age 31 weeks, give or take

Breed Jack Russell cross

Position Newbie at Number 10

Time in office Four months

Dilyn might look like a scruffy pup from the wrong side of town, but he’s come a long way since being rescued from a puppy farm in Carmarthenshire. Don't let his appearance deceive you, we can tell this pooch is up to something naughty. Will he be the dog to finally scare off Chief Mouser, Larry? Only time will tell. Well, that, and the election results. It could be bye-bye Dilyn very soon. 


Getty Images

Age 12

Breed Tabby 

Position Chief Mouser to Number 10

Time in office Eight years

You think the PM has a lot on their plate? Try being tasked with ridding 10 Downing Street of all its rodents. A rescue cat from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Larry has years of experience and a fiery temperament which mean he rules the roost at Westminster. A bit like the Queen, he has come to represent stability in politically turbulent times, having retained his post after David Cameron’s exit in 2016 and asserted his dominance when Boris Johnson's pooch arrived earlier this year. Nailing social media without lifting a paw, he has a Twitter account (unofficial) with more than 337,000 followers. Despite the young pretenders biting at his ankles, Larry remains top cat.



Age Three

Breed Tarantula, though no one knows which kind – he could be harmless, but on the other hand…

Position Chief Petrifier

Time in office 23 months, from Gavin Williamson’s appointment as Chief Whip in July 2016 to June 2018

What’s the best way to terrify your opponents (and allies) into toeing the party line? Buy a freaking tarantula, that’s what. Then name it after the Greek god who killed his father and ate most of his children. That seems to have been the thinking of Gavin Williamson, who kept an eight-legged accomplice on his desk – presumably in a bid to be cast as the next Bond villain. He lasted nearly two years, before being banished from Westminster. And really, we're not that surprised – he is a terrifying TARANTULA after all.


Photo by Steve Beck

Age Four

Breed Moggy

Position Chief Mouser to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Time in office Three years and seven months

For a while, Palmerston was on the prowl for the keys to No 10, but long-time Chief Mouser Larry has proven a tough enemy to defeat. There have been many vicious (cat)fights, including a battle that saw Palmerston come away with a mangled ear while Larry lost his collar. The constant conflicts must have taken their toll, as Palmerston was signed off with stress in July this year; he only resumed his mouse-chasing duties earlier this month. People were getting too handsy and feeding him treats, so his carer Sir Simon McDonald has warned colleagues that they must now not disturb the feline when he is in ‘Palmerston HQ’. 


Image courtesy of Buzzfeed

Age Four

Breed Moggy

Position Chief Mouser to the Treasury

Time in office Three years and six months

Gladstone terrified the nation when he briefly disappeared in the summer of 2018. Thankfully, the stylish kitty, often seen sporting a dapper bow tie (usually crimson with white polka dots), was found and is still roaming Westminster halls. He’s tech-savvy too – essential for success – having been fitted with a camera when he first arrived, so he’s capable of spilling all kinds of Treasury (and Brexit?) secrets. He’s basically the 007 of cats. 

Embassy Cat

Getty Images

Age Three

Breed Tabby

Position Chief Julian Assange Sanity-Saver

Time in office Two years and 11 months

This uber-cute kitty was a gift to the WikiLeaks founder in May 2016 and has been padding around the Ecuadorian Embassy ever since. Perhaps trying to outdo Gladstone, Embassy Cat was photographed rocking a shirt-collar and striped tie, but it’s a sense of mystery that’s his real strength: what super-secret, government-toppling info is he privy to? When Assange finally left the embassy in April 2019, everyone wondered what would happen to this enigmatic feline. No one knows for sure where he went, but rumours claim he’s with Assange’s family. Fare thee well, Embassy Cat.

Evie and Ossie

Photo of Evie courtesy of the Cabinet Office

Photo of Ossie courtesy of the Cabinet Office

Ages Evie (mother), four years and six months; Ossie (son), three years and six months

Breed Moggy

Position Mousers at the Cabinet Office 

Time in office Three years

These rescue cats from the Celia Hammond Animal Trust were brought into the Cabinet Office in December 2016 to take a swipe at Whitehall’s tidal wave of mice. This duo have more than 54,000 followers combined on Twitter but haven’t posted anything since last year. Don't worry, although they're keeping a low profile at the moment, they’re still around. In fact, Evie was promoted to the Equalities Unit in April, 2019. She’s coming for you, Larry. 

Rex and Oscar

Ages unknown

Breeds Rex, Welsh terrier; Oscar, wire-haired dachshund

Position Chief Scaredy-Dogs

Time in office Unknown

When former Chancellor Philip Hammond brought them to Number 11 in 2016, he had to lock them up to save them from getting a Larry-shaped hiding, so they never really had a chance of achieving power. But, then, Rex and Oscar were always too busy dawdling along looking sleepy and loveable. Since daddy Hammond left his post, we’re not quite sure where they are. Their blossoming Instagram account has been put to private. We need to know what happened, Downing Street.

El Gato

Age Unknown

Breed Not sure

Position Leader of the Oppawsition and Chief Tory-Botherer

Time in office To come (maybe)

El Gato is just as mysterious now as he was when he first arrived. Once upon a time, the beauty in black and white, who was never given a proper moniker by Jeremy Corbyn, was used for political purrposes. Like when Jezza tweeted a pic of El Gato alfresco, claiming that the cat had walked out of the Corbyn home when then-PM David Cameron was being interviewed on TV. Nowadays, he’s a lifestyle model, featuring on the Corbyn family holiday card in 2018. Oh, Gato.


Age Seven

Breed Bichon frise

Position Whitehall Glamour-Bringer

Time in office Two years and seven months

Parliamentary pet news usually focuses on kitties, but all eyes were on then-Chancellor George Osborne’s pooch when she took office in 2013. Her arrival also signalled the departure of Freya, Osborne’s tough-as-nails tabby. Famed for her off-piste adventures (she once wandered down to south London and spent the night on a houseboat), Freya was sent to Kent, reportedly after fears she’d ‘bully’ precious Lola. Too delicate to wield much political heft, Lola left Downing Street and became a newshound at the Evening Standard, where her owner works.   

Want more cute animals? Check out London's most famous pub cats.

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