Leading article: Feline friends

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A moment's silence, please, to commemorate a political life. Alistair Darling's cat, Sybil, passed away yesterday after a short illness. We hope she died in the knowledge that she was one lucky feline. For if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been of the cat-kicking disposition, her life would have been pretty miserable these past few years. Of course, a more even-tempered politician than Mr Darling it would be hard to find. And Sybil's presence might well have had something to do with that. As numerous thinkers have noted, cats often have a soothing quality on their owners. Granted, the economy is looking as shaky as a newborn kitten at the moment – but imagine what condition it might be in now without Sybil.

Harry Truman is once said to have quipped: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." If you want to remain calm in Westminster, get a cat. Probably best, however, not to put it on expenses.