February 15, 2011 / 3:33 PM / 7 years ago

UK PM calls in Larry the cat to catch the rats

<p>A cat called Larry is photographed in Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, before being taken to Downing Street, in London February 15, 2011.Carl Court/Pool</p>

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Downing Street has a new occupant -- a street-smart character with a license to kill.

Larry the cat has been brought in to the British Prime Minister's official residence to clean up a gang of rats who have been openly parading in front of the TV cameras.

He had lately been living at London's Battersea Dogs and Cats Home after having been taken in as a stray.

He was recruited on Tuesday specifically for catching rats, but Prime Minister David Cameron's young children are believed to have been in favor of seeing him move in.

Larry will be looked after by Downing Street staff, who helped choose him, and will have the run of most of the offices and official rooms as well as the garden.

Battersea said Larry showed all the signs of the hunter instinct needed for seeing off rats as well as the right qualities in coping with the demands of daily life at Number 10.

"He's quite independent and has bags of character," it said in a statement. "I can definitely see Larry holding his own at Downing Street."

The BBC has shown footage of rats scuttling down the central London street as correspondents reported live on camera.

Downing Street had asked for a cat that was happy meeting new people, but had few other requirements, the shelter said.

The last cat to stalk Downing Street, Humphrey, vanished shortly after Tony Blair and his wife Cherie moved in 1997.

Humphrey's predecessor in the corridors of power, Wilberforce, served four prime ministers, including Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher, before his death in 1988.

Reporting by Adrian Croft, Writing by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Paul Casciato

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