I recently snuggled with the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska.
He was friendly and quite diplomatic, making sure to give everyone who'd traveled to see him an equal amount of attention.
In return, we all gave Stubbs, a 17-year-old cat, a few scratches behind the ears. We could be some of the last Talkeetna tourists to do so.
The mayoral Manx has served Talkeetna, which is home to fewer than 900 people, since July 18, 1997 when he was still just a kitten.
It’s rumored that Stubbs was elected mayor following a write-in campaign by voters who opposed the human candidates. However, Talkeetna has no actual mayor and no election — the town is run by a community council.
Stubbs conducts his unofficial mayoral business from Nagley's General Store, where he can often be found sleeping in a basket or sipping his favorite cocktail: water with a catnip garnish.
On the day we met, Stubbs was doing the rounds in and around the store, greeting his constituents, as well as tourists who were in town for Memorial Day weekend.
Eventually, he curled up beneath a picnic table for a nap.
Having recently turned 85 in cat years, Stubbs may soon retire from life in the political spotlight.
His owner, Lauri Stec, says she may move Stubbs into her house to take a break from the deluge of visitors who flock to the store each summer to see him.
She says Stubbs will likely hate being stuck at the house, but she's concerned about his health — and his penchant for trouble.
"He's definitely used up 100 lives," she recently told the Alaska Dispatch.
In August, Stubbs was mauled by a dog, an attack that left him with a punctured lung, crushed sternum, bruised hips and a deep gash.
He was rushed to a veterinary clinic in Wasilla, Alaska, and eventually made a full recovery.
In addition to surviving the assassination attempt, Stubbs has also lived through being shot with a BB gun and falling into a cold fryer at the café attached to Nagley's General Store.
If Stubbs leaves the store this summer, his fans — who hail from regions far outside his constituency, from the likes of Turkey, Australia and China — will still be able to keep up with his adventures on Facebook.
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