In 2014, I had a chance to snuggle 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, then a 17-year-old cat, a few scratches behind the ears.
We were some of the last Talkeetna tourists to do so, as Stubbs passed away recently at the age of 20. The mayoral Manx had served Talkeetna, which is home to fewer than 900 people, since July 18, 1997 when he was just a kitten.
"He was a trooper until the very last day of his life; meowing at
us throughout the day to pet him or to come sit on the bed with him and let him snuggle and purr for
hours in our lap,"
wrote his family in a statement. "You are a
remarkable cat and we will dearly miss you. We loved the time we were allowed to spend with you."
Powerful yet cuddly
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 conducted his unofficial mayoral business from Nagley's Store, where he often was 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 96 in cat years, Stubbs lived a good long life.
His owner, Lauri Stec, said during our visit that she was moving Stubbs into her house to take a break from the deluge of visitors who flocked to the store each summer to see him.
She was concerned about his health — and his penchant for trouble. "He's definitely used up 100 lives," she told the Alaska Dispatch.
In 2013, 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 also lived through being shot with a BB gun and falling into a cold fryer at the café attached to Nagley's Store.
The family asks that anyone wishing to honor Stubbs please not call the store, but instead send a card or a letter to:
Mayor Stubbs/Nagley’s Store
PO Box 413
Talkeetna, AK 99676
They'll put the cards in a scrapbook, which will be on display at Nagley’s Store.
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in June 2014.