18/10/2012 06:43 BST | Updated 18/12/2012 05:12 GMT

What Caused the Downing Street Catfight?

It seems that there's not only tensions within the government - it's even spread to their pet cats. Blue Cross chief vet Caroline Reay reveals what actually caused the early morning Downing Street catfight between the Prime Minister and Chancellor's moggies...

The Downing Street catfight is another illustration of how the pressures of modern living affect our pets.

Popular legend has cats as aggressive fighters - yet in reality, as solitary hunters who have to feed and look after themselves, most try hard to avoid an actual physical fight.

Any serious injury could mean starvation. There is no-one to come to your aid.

So what caused the very public cat fight? Not a power struggle for the cabinet post of Chief Mouser!

Downing Street is Larry's turf

Freya, the Osbornes' cat, is an interloper on Larry's territory, having only arrived three months ago when her microchip reunited her with her family.

And Downing Street is - physically of course - a very sterile environment due to the need for security.

There is nowhere for a cat to hide or to get away, and no parked cars to hide under. If Freya is on the doorstep of No.10 when Larry comes home they are forced to meet head-on.

Guarding their territory

As owners know, cats don't believe in waiting or taking turns. If they want something they want it NOW.

And that can bring conflict over a right of way. But cat body language is often not obvious. A hard stare from another cat can be very intimidating - yet owners can easily misinterpret it as a "friend" keeping an eye on their cat.

There can be other flashpoints as well. Food bowls and litter trays are resources that one cat may guard from another.

Cats like to be private when they are eating and using the toilet, so every cat in the household should have his or her own feeding or toilet area, well out of sight of other cats.

How to avoid another catfight

So how can the government keep the peace? They could arrange plant pots outside the front door so that cats can conceal themselves.

Out of sight is often out of mind for a cat. Cats readily exploit vertical space so a system of platforms and ladders might help too.

A cat flap might cause more trouble. One cat could block access, and unless the flap is set to a particular collar or microchip, there's a risk of the wrong cat entering the other's territory.

Perhaps the real answer is a cabinet reshuffle. No cat owners for chancellor, please! And the political views of dog owner candidates are less important than whether their pet will put Larry's nose further out of joint.

Blue Cross has been dedicated to helping sick, injured and homeless pets since 1897. There are lots of ways you can support our work - have a look on our how you can help pages.