David Cameron has insisted his family loves Larry the Downing Street cat - despite being unimpressed by his mouse-catching skills.
Following allegations in a new book that the rescued pet was little more than a public relations prop, Mr Cameron stressed that he was "very keen" on Larry.
But at a Tory conference where praising the virtue of hard work has been the key message, the Prime Minister appeared to question Larry's dedication to his duties as a mouser.
Mr Cameron denied the claim in Matthew d'Ancona's In It Together that the cat was unpopular, and said: "I'm very keen on Larry, my family love Larry, and now we've got Freya as well, the Chancellor's cat."
He told Sky News Radio: "I think where this story came from is I was once rude about Larry's mousing abilities. It is true that he once sat on a chair in my study at Number 10 and this mouse ran across the floor and Larry just lifted his head and had a look at it and did absolutely nothing."
But Mr Cameron added: " He's a much-loved cat and my family adore him."
Larry was rehomed at No 10 in February 2011 by animal charity Battersea Dogs And Cats Home.
The cat's initially lackadaisical approach to his mousing duties led to speculation that his days at No 10 could be numbered but i n August last year Downing Street confirmed Larry had finally recorded a kill.