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Britain’s Tories Are Having a Cat Fight — Seriously, Their Felines Are Fighting

After Brexit and a cabinet shake-up, even Britain's cats can't get along.

Larry, the cat of British Prime Minister David Cameron, sits on the step outside 10 Downing Street in London on May 9, 2015. Britain awoke to a new political landscape after a shock election victory for Prime Minister David Cameron that decapitated the opposition and bolstered secessionists in Scotland.    AFP PHOTO/JUSTIN TALLIS        (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Larry, the cat of British Prime Minister David Cameron, sits on the step outside 10 Downing Street in London on May 9, 2015. Britain awoke to a new political landscape after a shock election victory for Prime Minister David Cameron that decapitated the opposition and bolstered secessionists in Scotland. AFP PHOTO/JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

In April, Britain’s Foreign Office decided that, like its neighbors at the nearby prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, it too would adopt a cat to catch and kill any mice that might be scurrying around the property.

And so the office, then home to former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, chose Palmerston, a black-and-white cat who had been rescued by the Battersea Dogs and Cats home, an animal shelter in London.

For his few months alongside Hammond, Palmerston seemed relatively well-behaved and harmless. But then, in mid-July, shortly after the brazen, messy-haired Boris Johnson took over the role of foreign secretary, scuffles began to break out between the newly adopted cat and Larry, the white and brown cat that has been living at 10 Downing since he too was adopted from Battersea in 2011.

(Larry stayed at the residence after David Cameron resigned as prime minister this month, and now enjoys the company of recently appointed Prime Minister Theresa May instead.)

“Sadly I can’t take Larry with me,” Cameron said in his final appearance in a question-and-answer session before the British parliament. “He belongs to the house, and the staff love him very much, as do I.”

Larry suffered in Cameron’s absence, and injured his paw so badly in a particularly messy fight with Palmerston, that he had to go to the vet — a treatment that was paid for by 10 Downing Street staff.

Things came to a head Tuesday, however, when Palmerston, apparently sensing that Larry was back in the neighborhood, tried to sneak into 10 Downing — possibly for further revenge.

Photos that emerged from the scene show him in what appears to be a full stand-off between the two cats, with a guard standing watch:

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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