| LONDON: Downing Street has a new occupant -- a street-smart character with a licence to kill.|
Larry the cat has been brought in to the Prime Minister's official residence to clean up a gang of rats who have been openly parading in front of the TV cameras.
He had lately been living at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home after having been taken in as a stray.
He was recruited on Tuesday specifically for catching rats, but Prime Minister David Cameron's young children are believed to have been in favour of seeing him move in.
Larry will be looked after by Downing Street staff, who helped choose him, and will have the run of most of the offices and official rooms as well as the garden.
Battersea said Larry showed all the signs of the hunter instinct needed for seeing off rats as well as the right qualities in coping with the demands of daily life at Number 10.
"He's quite independent and has bags of character," it said in a statement. "I can definitely see Larry holding his own at Downing Street."
The BBC has shown footage of rats scuttling down the London street as correspondents reported live on camera.
Downing Street had asked for a cat that was happy meeting new people, but had few other requirements, the shelter said.
The last cat to stalk Downing Street, Humphrey, vanished shortly after Tony Blair and his wife Cherie moved in in 1997.
Humphrey's predecessor in the corridors of power, Wilberforce, served four prime ministers, including Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher, before his death in 1988. (Reuters)