Cats, dogs and spiders (oh my!) stalk the halls of Westminster, but which ones wield paw-some amounts of power?
Position Chief Mouser to Number 10
Time in office six years
You think Theresa May has a lot on her 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 that he rules the roost at Westminster. A bit like the Queen, he has come to represent stability in a politically turbulent time – having retained his post after David Cameron’s exit and the government shake-up last summer. Nailing social media without lifting a paw, he has a Twitter account (unofficial) with more than 107,000 followers. Despite the young pretenders biting at his ankles, Larry remains top cat.
Breed tarantula, though no one knows which kind – he could be harmless but on the other hand…
Position Chief Petrifier
Time in office nine months, from Gavin Williamson’s appointment as Chief Whip in July 2016
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 keeps his eight-legged accomplice on his desk – presumably in a bid to be cast as the next Bond villain. But why is Cronus so powerful? Well, aside from being the pet of the PM’s pet, he’s a TARANTULA.
Position Chief Mouser at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Time in office 11 months
He hasn’t even been on the pest control scene for a year, but Palmerston has already made a bid for power in a series of scraps with his Number 10 neighbour Larry, culminating in a vicious (cat)fight last December. This last battle saw Palmerston come away with a mangled ear, while Larry lost his collar. A sign of things to come? Watch out, Larry: Palmerston is on the prowl for glory and he’s got the mousing skills to pull it off. He’s also in a purrfect position to woo foreign dignitaries, or swipe their ankles, depending on his mood.
Position Chief Mouser to the Treasury
Time in office nine months
A relative newbie, this kitty has a keen sense of style that puts him high on the list. Sharp dresser Gladstone is often seen sporting a dapper bow tie, usually crimson with white polka dots. Whether this is an indication of his political leanings remains unconfirmed. Tech-savvy too – essential for success – he was fitted with a camera, so he’s also capable of spilling all kinds of Treasury secrets.
Position Chief Julian Assange Sanity Saver
Time in office ten 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? And who made him that bespoke outfit? That is one enigmatic feline.
Evie and Ossie
Ages Evie (mother), one year and nine months; Ossie (son), nine months
Position Chief Cabinet Office Mousers
Time in office three months
These rescue cats from the Celia Hammond Animal Trust were brought into the Cabinet Office in December to take a swipe at Whitehall’s tidal wave of mice. This newbie duo are keeping a low profile at the moment but they’re ones to watch. We have a funny feline (sorry) they could spring a surprise coup for mousing power any day.
Rex and Oscar
Breeds Rex, Welsh terrier; Oscar, wire-haired dachshund
Position Chief Scaredy-Dogs
Time in office nine months
When new Chancellor Philip Hammond brought them to Number 11 last year, he had to lock them up to save them from getting a Larry-shaped hiding. So no chance of achieving power. But then, they’re too busy dawdling along looking sleepy and loveable. They even have a private Instagram account named Terrier About Town. Awww!
Breed not sure
Position Leader of the Oppawsition and Chief Tory-Botherer
Time in office to come (maybe)
Let down by the lack of a proper moniker (Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t bothered to name the poor moggy, using the Spanish for ‘The Cat’ instead), El Gato did claw back some power points when his owner used him for political purrposes. Tweeting a pic of El Gato alfresco, Jezza claimed the cat had walked out of the Corbyn home when then-PM David Cameron was being interviewed on TV. Miaow.
Breed bichon frise
Position Whitehall Glamour-Bringer
Time in office December 2013-July 2016
Parliamentary pet news usually focuses on kitties, but all eyes were on then-Chancellor George Osborne’s pooch when she arrived 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 may make waves as a newshound when her owner takes up his new position as editor at the Evening Standard.
Is Sadiq Khan on the verge of appointing the most important political pet in London? The Mayor of London is considering a request for City Hall to purchase a cat, to clean up the building’s mega-mouse problem. You thought Whitehall had it bad? A critter apparently fell and ‘landed’ by a group of schoolchildren visiting City Hall, prompting the demand. This could be a shrewd move from Sadiq, and could signal the beginning of a new era of Political Power Pets. Forget PMQs, we’re too busy watching out for an incoming City Kitty.
Want more cute animals? Check out London's most famous pub cats.