Honorary cat mayor of Alaska town slow to heal

A cat named Stubbs lies on a tarp in an alley in Talkeetna in this file photo. Stubbs, the popular feline honorary mayor of Talkeetna, is slowly recovering from severe wounds sustained in a vicious attack on Aug. 31 by a loose dog. The 16-year-old orange cat must be kept quiet so he can mend from injuries that included a fractured sternum, punctured lung and a deep gash on his side.

ANCHORAGE — The popular and oh so social feline mayor of an Alaska town is limited to a life of solitary confinement these days as he slowly recovers from severe wounds sustained in a vicious attack by a loose dog.

Before the attack, Stubbs, the honorary mayor of Talkeetna, had free reign of the quirky town that elected him in a write-in campaign 15 years ago. He greeted visitors to his home at Nagley’s General Store and enjoyed his wine glass of catnip-spiked water at the next-door bar in the community of 900.

“He’s not walking very well,” Nagley’s assistant manager Skye Farrar said Tuesday. “He’s tired and he’s weak.”

The 16-year-old orange cat must be kept quiet so he can mend from injuries that included a fractured sternum, punctured lung and a deep gash on his side.

Stubbs also is healing from the trauma of the Aug. 31 mauling in the town, 115 miles north of Anchorage. He hasn’t been eating very well and is “skin and bones,” Farrar said.

Stubbs’ owner Lauri Stec, who is out of town this week, has said she knows the dog that was involved. She said she reported the attack with Matatnuska-Susitna Borough animal control officials.

Matt Hardwig, the borough’s chief animal control enforcement officer, said there is no record that anyone filed a written complaint about the matter.

“We don’t even know what happened,” Hardwig said Wednesday.

During his convalescence, Stubbs is being cared for at a house connected to the back of the general store. When Stec brought Stubbs home from an animal hospital more than a week after his attack, she had planned to move him back to the store quickly so he could be around his beloved people and watch them from his bed, a mushing sled piled with furs of caribou, lynx, fox and beaver.

“We had all envisioned that,” Farrar said. “But it didn’t work out that way.”

To keep him quiet during that short-lived experiment, Stubbs’ friends had placed him in a small kennel and then in the sled. In no uncertain meows, he let them know that was unacceptable. So back to the quiet house it was.

Farrar said she hopes Stubbs will do better next time he’s brought back into the store. Once he gets his groove back, she expects him to carry on with some of his favorite activities, such as watching the store’s goldfish. He likes to drink water from the bowl and lick the backs of the goldfish, but he never hurts them.

“He’ll be back to his normal self probably in a couple of months,” Farrar said. And then, she said, “We expect him to demand a lot of attention.”

Stubbs was already popular in Talkeetna, with both locals and tourists alike. The town — purported to be the inspiration for the town in the 1990s TV series, “Northern Exposure” — has no human mayor. Stubbs is it.

When news spread about the attack, new fans emerged from around the world, with scores posting get-well messages on Stubbs’ Facebook page, which had almost 28,000 “likes” as of Wednesday morning. Donations for Stubbs and get-well cards and letters also have poured in.

The mauling was not the first swat against Stubbs’ nine lives. He’s been shot by a BB gun, fallen into a cold fryer vat and once took a ride on a garbage truck before leaping off.


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