It’s been 10 years since a feline occupant has graced the doors of 10 Downing Street, the residence and office of the Prime Minister of the UK and the headquarters of Her Majesty’s Government.
Now, there is a new cat in town. Sybil (pictured here), a black and white cat, is the beloved cat of Alistair Darling, finance minister, and his wife Margaret.
Sybil is the first cat to occupy Number 10 since the legendary Humphrey, a stray cat that took up residence under prime ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and Tony Blair.
Humphrey was quite a powerhouse. He was paid $200 each year from the Cabinet Office budget for his expenses.
In a file on Humphrey by the Official Secrets Act, it was revealed: “He is a workaholic who spends nearly all his time at the office, has no criminal record, does not socialize a great deal or go to many parties and has not been involved in any sex or drug scandals that we know of.”
But Humphrey did have one scandal in his lifetime: he was accused of killing four baby robins. But Major stood by his side and said the cat didn’t do it.
Humphrey came from a long line of government cats. One of Humphrey’s descendants even had “diplomatic status”, so she could not be removed.
Tony Blair retired Humphrey in 1997. Although there is speculation that his wife, Cherie, forced the cat out because she disliked Humphrey. To dispel the rumors, a photo shoot of Cherie and Humphrey was arranged to show the two were friendly.
Humphrey died in March 2006 at the home of a Cabinet Office worker who had taken him in.
In regards to the new cat powerhouse, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spokesperson said the prime minister is aware of Sybil, and he and his wife, Sarah, have no problem with a cat living in the building.
When asked if Sybil would have free rein of the place, the spokesperson said that cats are not the easiest animals to confine.
Photo: Daily Mail