UK's top diplomatic cat announces retirement to 'enjoy some me-time'

Palmerston has worked in the Foreign Office for just four years, but the diplo-cat has made quite the impression on social media.
Image: Chief Mouser at Foreign Office
Palmerston had a storied career as the office's Chief Mouser, dealing with rodent problems and climbing atop furniture. Stefan Rousseau / AP Wire

After four years serving as the "Chief Mouser" in the United Kingdom's Foreign Office, a black-and-white rescue cat named Palmerston is stepping "away from the limelight" and going into retirement.

In a letter signed with two paw prints and sent to the Foreign Office's undersecretary, Sir Simon McDonald, Palmerston "wrote" that he is finding life "away from the front line" to be "relaxed, quieter, and easier." While he regrets that he will no longer engage in tasks like catching mice and pretending to be asleep during sensitive conversations, he's looking forward to enjoying some "me-time" when he retires at the end of the month.

The cat, who is named after the longest-serving British Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, was brought to the office as a rescue in 2016, according to The Associated Press.

His tenure as chief mouser wasn't all smooth sailing — he had a tense relationship with Larry, the cat-in-residence at the British prime minister's home, and occasionally the two could even be seen fighting outside.

Palmerston watches his sometimes nemesis Larry walk by on Downing Street in London.Victoria Jones / Getty Images

However, the two appeared to make up in early 2019, after their relationship was mediated by another official.

In addition to his diplomatic efforts, Palmerston also spent plenty of time on social media, engaging with more than 105,000 followers and sharing frequent updates about his official duties, even as he began to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have been delighted to meet representatives from all over the world, and I hope I have done you proud in putting the U.K.’s best foot or paw forward in such interaction,” the letter said.

His retirement announcement was met with regret from his colleagues.

"In 2016, Palmerston arrived from @Battersea, mouser & social media phenomenon, with 105K @Twitter followers," wrote McDonald, the undersecretary to whom Palmerston sent his retirement letter. "After 4 1/2 happy years, @diplomog retires at the end of August: He's enjoyed lockdown life in the countryside so much, he's decided to stay."

Another diplomat and colleague less-than-fondly remembered the time that Palmerston left a "slightly chewed dead mouse" next to his desk, but still wished the cat "a very happy retirement."

The Foreign Office even shared a short, sweet video honoring its top cat.

"At the end of August this year, the Foreign Office’s one and only @diplomog will be standing down in his post as Chief Mouser to begin a new life as a country cat," wrote the office on Twitter. "We'll all miss him paw-fully, but wish him a purr-fect retirement."