Marine Le Pen yesterday confirmed she had passed a diploma to become a professional cat breeder, but the French far-right leader – who polls suggest may crash out of next year’s presidential election – denied the move was an escape route from politics.
nstead, Ms Le Pen (53) predicted her “passion” for felines, which has led aides to nickname her “cat mother”, would make her the first French president to bring her six cats with her to the Elysee Palace.
She could also envision bringing in Eric Zemmour as prime minister, said Ms Le Pen, who has been on the back foot since a poll last week suggested the rival nationalist would knock her out in the first round should he run, before going on to lose to incumbent Emmanuel Macron.
Until now, dogs have been the pet choice of French presidents.
Mr Macron has a black labrador-griffon cross named Nemo, Nicolas Sarkozy had a chihuahua called Big and Jacques Chirac a Maltese called Sumo, which he banished after it became so depressed about leaving the presidential palace that it routinely savaged its master.
Ms Le Pen’s love of cats is well documented. Last year, it was revealed she was posting dozens of pictures of her pets on a private Instagram account called Les Chats Masques (The Masked Cats). She changed the name to The Unmasked Cats once the secret was out.
But she said she had taken her passion to the next stage during lockdown by passing a diploma allowing her to work with domestic animals.
“I have become a cat breeder,” she told RTL radio.
“It’s a passion. One can do politics while having a profession, or turn a passion into a profession.”
She has previously confessed that “I could stop everything and do something else. Like breed cats”.
However, yesterday she said that she had no intention of dropping the far-right family tradition, saying: “If I don’t get elected, I will continue to do politics and will still have my cats.”
She said she remained “convinced I’m the best-placed” to beat Mr Macron.
“I can and will win this presidential election,” she added.
A second Harris Interactive poll placed Mr Zemmour ahead of her on 17pc to 18pc with Ms Le Pen on 15pc to 16pc – a whisker ahead of right-wing hopeful Xavier Bertrand.
Mr Macron was polling to win 24pc to 28pc in round one, before going on to beat Mr Zemmour by 57pc to 43pc.
However, a separate BVA poll yesterday placed Ms Le Pen well ahead of Mr Zemmour, on 16.5pc to his 13.5pc.
Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon was on 11pc, while Green candidate Yannick Jadot was on 7pc to 8pc and Socialist hopeful Anne Hidalgo, who is mayor of Paris, trailed on 5pc.
Ms Le Pen said Mr Zemmour “has absolutely no desire to be [my] prime minister” but that on immigration and crime, “we have come to the same conclusion and thus will be bound at one point or another to join forces”. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)
Telegraph Media Group Limited