UK’s ‘Leading Cat’ Dies at 18

Humphrey, the cat who shared 10 Downing Street with two British prime ministers but was evicted by current resident Tony Blair, has died. He was aged about 18.

The black and white cat was perhaps the most famous pet in a country of animal worshippers. Newspaper headlines in the UK this week included "World of politics mourns a legend" (The Sun) and "Political world mourns a killer named Humphrey" (The Times).

Tony Blair’s office said late on Sunday that Humphrey died last week at the home of a civil servant who had adopted him. The black-and-white stray wandered into Downing Street in 1989 when it was occupied by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and was named in honor of Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Machiavellian civil servant in the sitcom Yes, Minister.

He remained living at 10 Downing Street under Thatcher’s successor, John Major, but moved shortly after Blair took office in 1997, prompting a Conservative lawmaker to ask in the House of Commons for assurances he was still alive. Tony Blair’s wife Cherie denied reports her dislike of cats was responsible for Humphrey’s eviction. Officials said Humphrey was suffering from a kidney complaint and needed a quieter home in the suburbs.

His many nicknames included the "mouser in chief", and in his heyday he appeared regularly in the media, and once narrowly avoided being squashed under the wheels of United States President Bill Clinton’s bulletproof Cadillac.

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