World Rulers: Perhaps the most influential species in politics has been the house cat. Okay, well maybe not the most influential, but cats have found themselves in some peculiar situations and have, very quietly, made their presence in world affairs felt. They tend to show up when we lest expect them, and influence politics the way they influence our lives - quietly, carefully, and demurely. Some cat have taken a more vocal role in world affairs, however, and when they meowed, people listened.
The Elder Cats: Political cats widely influenced the world of ancient Egypt. They were closely associated with the goddess Bast – she had the head of a cat – and were considered to be sacred animals. It was a crime to kill one. Even if done by accident, the punishment was death. They were also revered in many other cultures. In Japan for instance, Emperor Ichijo once imprisoned a man whose dog had chased the Emperor’s cat, Myobu No Omoto.
Royal Line: In England, cats have lived at the Prime Minister’s house for centuries, perhaps as far back as Henry VIII. The most famous of these cats was Humphrey, who took office late during Margaret Thatcher’s reign. He was named “Mouser to the Cabinet Office.” His care, only 100 pounds, was paid for by funds from the department’s budget and far cheaper than the previous exterminator’s payment of 4,000 pounds. Humphrey’s reign was, at times, rocky. During John Major’s tenure, Humphrey was accused him of killing baby robins, but Major declared, “It is quite certain that Humphrey is not a serial killer.”
Advisor Cat: Another Prime Minister loved cats as well. Winston Churchill owned several cats and allowed them to play significant roles in his government. One, named Jock, was his special assistant and mentioned in his will. Another cat helped Churchill with an important speech. Churchill had been preparing a speech on the threat of communism and was unsure whether to deliver it or not. As he was writing it, a stray cat wandered into his house. Churchill took the cat’s presence as a sign of good luck, and went ahead with the speech. The speech was a hit and Churchill adopted the cat, naming it Margate (the name of the town where the speech was delivered.) Margate moved into Churchill’s home and eventually Churchill’s bed.