Home Office fat cat was retired to the country

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It was the story of one nation's love affair with furry animals and the obsession of a Civil Service with keeping records, no matter how apparently trivial the subject.

Documents released yesterday detail the history of the official Home Office cat. It began with a request for a penny-a-day allowance for the upkeep of a "mouser". And it ended with a pedigree feline in the corridors of Whitehall.

On 3 June 1929, the Treasury authorised the office keeper at the Home Office "to spend 1d a day from his petty cash towards the maintenance of an efficient office cat".

The original Home Office cat, Peter, was put to sleep in 1946, but a succession of cats continued in the role until, in 1964, a pedigree Manx cat called Peta was appointed. Unfortunately, the "aristocratic" Peta did not take to her new duties. In February 1967 a memorandum ordered staff not to feed her titbits, saying she had become "inordinately fat".

She kept her job until 1976, when she was said to be "enjoying a break in the country".