UK Politics

'Pro-cat faction' urges Downing Street rat rethink

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Media captionThe rodent made its move during a broadcast by the BBC's political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue

The government says it is now considering bringing in a cat to deal with a rat spotted outside 10 Downing Street.

The prime minister's spokesman said on Monday there would not be a replacement for Humphrey, the No 10 cat during much of the 1990s.

But after newspaper reports on Tuesday that the Cameron family might get a cat, the spokesman said there was a "pro-cat faction within the building".

No decisions have been taken, he added.

The Downing Street rat has been seen scuttling outside the door of Number 10 on two TV news bulletins.

It was first spotted during a BBC News broadcast by political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue.

Stray to stardom

It passed behind the railings outside Number 10 during a live report last week.

It has since been spied on another TV broadcast from the famous central London street.

Asked about the creature during a lobby briefing for Westminster's press pack, the prime minister's official spokesman said there were "no plans" to bring in a cat to deal with it.

If there is a cat brought in it will be emulating previous famous political felines such as Socks at the White House and Humphrey in Number 10 during the 1990s.

Humphrey was adopted after wandering into the building as a stray while Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister in 1989.

He moved out six months after Labour's 1997 general election win, with Tony Blair's wife Cherie denying reports her dislike for the animal was to blame.

Humphrey died in March 2006 at the home of a civil servant who cared for him during his "retirement".

The number of rats living across the UK is estimated to be more than 50 million.

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