Humphrey, the Number Ten cat, has died. Conservative Animal Welfare Group President, Roger Gale MP, "who met Humphrey on a number of visits to Downing Street during the Thatcher and Major years", has issued a statement:
“Humphrey was often curled up on the doorkeeper’s chair and a very reassuring presence to those entering No. 10 on business. We were sad when Humphrey was ‘retired’ with the arrival of the Blairs. Humphrey clearly had a much loved and comfortable old age. We were all sorry to learn, today, of his death, and we shall all remember the Downing Street cat with great affection.”
Reuters gives us the history:
"He had wandered into No. 10 Downing Street under Margaret Thatcher and remained throughout the tenure of John Major. But he was sent away to live with a civil servant in "retirement" months after Tony Blair was elected in 1997. At the time, Conservative opponents accused Blair of having Humphrey put down because the new prime minister’s wife Cherie didn’t like the cat. Questions were raised. Fur flew. "Humphrey is now a missing person. Unless I hear from him or he makes a public appearance, I suspect he has been shot," opposition Conservative politician Alan Clark declared at the time.
The government finally arranged for press photos to prove Humphrey was still alive, saying he had gone to live with a civil servant to be treated for illness. He was photographed, hostage-like, with copies of the day’s newspapers to show the pictures were fresh. Blair’s office issued a statement saying Cherie was sad to see him go. It was not the only time Humphrey had been embroiled in scandal. In 1994 the government had to issue an official denial after the cat was accused of killing a family of robins."