Downing Street Defends Catnapping 'Mouser-in-Chief'
LONDON - Downing Street defended its resident cat Larry on Monday after British Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly flung a fork at a mouse that had escaped the tabby's attention.
The Daily Mail newspaper said Cameron saw the mouse during a dinner with Cabinet colleagues at 10 Downing Street in central London and hurled a silver folk at the rodent as it scuttled across the floor.
Larry was recruited from a strays' home as Downing Street's "mouser-in-chief" in February after a rat was spotted in television news bulletins scurrying around outside the famous black door of the PM's residence.
Asked whether Larry should resign, Cameron's official spokesman said only:
"Larry brings a lot of pleasure to a lot of people".
Cameron was dining with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson when the mouse appeared, the Daily Mail said.
Cameron's fork missed the rodent and Duncan Smith reportedly demanded:
"Where's Larry when you need him?"
In a June update, Cameron told the BBC that Larry had caught three mice but was "not very keen on men", despite him enjoying a stroke from US President Barack Obama in May.
His first confirmed kill was in April, when he was also seen slinking around the Cabinet table wearing a Union Jack bow tie to celebrate Prince William's wedding.
But Downing Street insiders have hinted that he was more interested in sleeping on the job than putting the frightners on inner-city rodents.
Larry's predecessor was Sybil, who moved in with then finance minister Alistair Darling in 2007 but returned to Edinburgh after six months, having failed to settle in London.
Sybil was the first cat to live in the street since the legendary Humphrey, a stray who took up residence under prime minister Margaret Thatcher and outstayed John Major.
Tony Blair sent Humphrey into retirement in 1997 amid persistent speculation that his wife Cherie forced him out.
Humphrey was on the payroll, receiving 100 pounds (160 dollars, 117 euros) a year from the Cabinet Office budget.
However, during Britain's tough economic times, Larry's upkeep is paid for by Downing Street staff.
Image: The Prime Minister's Office / via Flickr