The term “mouser” refers to cats that are kept specifically for the purpose of killing mice and eradicating rodents.
The British government started employing mousers during the reign of King Henry VIII: in 1515 Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who acted as Lord Chancellor, appointed his pet cat as the official Mouser to the Treasury. The cat started receiving small weekly payments for its services, and the tradition continued to this day.
The most esteemed title a cat can obtain while being employed by the British Royal Government is the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office resides at 10 Downing Street and serves as an official mouser to the residence of the British Prime Minister.
Although the press often affectionately referred to the pet cats of Prime Ministers as Chief Mousers, the pets of Prime Ministers are not necessarily appointed Chief Mousers. Since 1929, there have been only 4 cats who officially receive the title, and the number of mousers who served prior to 1929 is unknown, as the official records of previous centuries haven’t yet been made public.
During the 1930’s, the Chief Mouser would receive a weekly allowance of 1 shilling and 6 pennies, but the sum increased over the years. The current Chief Mouser, a brown and white tabby cat named Larry, receives an annual wage of 100 pounds.
Larry became the Chief Mouser in 2011 after filling the position which had been empty since 2009, when the previous Chief Mouser, a black and white cat named Sybil, passed away. Larry was chosen by the Downing Street staff and adopted from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and his popularity sparked a wave of stray cat adoptions throughout the United Kingdom.
Although Larry was considered lazy and inefficient at first, he made his first public killing of a mouse on the 28th of August in 2012, when he dropped a mouse on the lawn at 10 Downing Street. Since then, Larry’s efficiency has reportedly improved. Also, from late 2012 to 2014, Larry had an official partner, a tabby cat named Freya, who shared the title with him. She was retired and sent to the Kent Countryside after she was hit by a car while roaming and had to be treated by a vet.
Larry continues to serve as the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, under the current British Prime Minister Theresa May.
He takes his job seriously and is reportedly violent towards other cats employed by the British Government. He constantly quarrels with Palmerston, a black and white cat who serves as the Chief Mouser to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Palmerston resides next door to 10 Downing Street, so the violent encounters between the two esteemed mousers are quite frequent.
Furthermore, Larry is said to be quite nervous when he has to spend time in the company of men and the Downing Street staff speculate that the reason for this may be the issues he experienced with violent and abusing humans before he was adopted.
He has now since become the most respected cat of the Commonwealth.