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Weird History: Your Cat Can Be the Mayor

We are going to veer away from murder and mayhem and poisonous colors this week to look a more delightful side of history. Because even us horror people who are skeptical of other humans love animals.

This week, we look at animals in government! That's right. Most of these critters are mayors but we've got a senator and a librarian on the list too. So, without further ado, let's look at some heroes.


the horse senator of ancient Rome

Incitatus had it good as far as horses go in in 40 CE. Caligula, one of history's most notorious Roman emperors, loved that goddamn horse. Reports vary, but some say Incitatus had his own house and a marble stall.

At one point, Caligula decided that he wanted to make Incitatus a consul. During this time, consul was the Roman Republic's highest elected public office. Now, there's debate over whether or not this actually happened (Caligula was possible assassinated before making it official). There's also some controversy over why Caligula wanted to do it in the first place. Some say it was one of Caligula's wild whims, while others suggest he was trying to make a political statement about other consul members.

Now, are we endorsing Caligula? Of course not. Are we saying Incitatus was probably the most fascinating horse in the Roman Republic? Absolutely.


the cat mayor in Alaska

Mayor Stubbs! Yes, technically this position was honorary, but it still counts! Stubbs served the residents of Talkeetna, Alaska for 20 years! According to CNN, Stubbs (who was a newborn kitten at the time) came into office after his name was written in during a 1997 election for which there weren't really enough human candidates.

His office was located at the local general store and he became something of a local attraction in Talkeetna, where the population rested under one thousand people for many years. “He doesn’t raise our taxes – we have no sales tax," said the general store manager in a 2012 interview. "He doesn’t interfere with business. He’s honest."

Stubbs passed away in 2017 at the age of 20. Today, the mayor of Talkeetna is reported to be Denali. And yes, Denali is also a cat.


the library cat in Texas

Browser was adopted by the White Settlement Public Library in 2010 to help with a rodent problem. A few years went by and the library (located in White Settlement, Texas) faced some push-back on Browser's appointment. A councilman even went so far as to have him formally removed. The mayor's office received over a thousand letters complaining about Browser's removal and the gray tabby cat was eventually reinstated.

When the councilman ultimately lost his own bid for reelection (he shouldn't have messed with the cat), the mayor decided to make Browser's position a lifetime appointment.


the Great Pyrenees mayor in Minnesota

Let's talk about Duke, the Great Pyrenees dog who served multiple terms as mayor in Cormorant, Minnesota. Like Mayor Stubbs, Duke came into office through a write-in ballot. Duke went from farm dog to mayor overnight in 2014. "Duke probably brought more to this community than any of us ever have," said Tricia Maloney, owner of The Cormorant Pub, to NPR. "He never barked. He never growled. He never nothing. He will forever be our mayor."

Duke often wore a little top hat and absolutely delighted residents. He passed away in 2019 at the age of of 13.


the honorary goat mayor in Vermont

Something you might not know about Frightful is that our editor has a weird affinity for goats. She just loves them. So, of course we have to include Lincoln on this list.

Lincoln is a 3-year-old Nubian goat who became mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont in 2019. The town decided to establish an honorary mayoral position as part of a fundraising campaign.

In 2020, Lincoln lost his office by 25 votes to a 3-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Murfee. Murfee is a therapy dog.

Together, Lincoln and Murphy have raised over $30,000 to rehabilitate a local playground.

As you might remember, our own Cavalier King Charles Poodle mix, Phoebe, is Dog-in-Chief here at Frightful. Phoebe approved this piece for publication.

Phoebe, Frightful Dog-in-Chief

Do you know about more animals in public office? Share their stories in the comments!

[Image Credit: kittens photo by Pixabay via Pexels, Incitatus illustration by Victor Adam via Wikimedia Commons, Stubbs photograph by Jenni Konrad via Wikimedia Commons, Browser screenshot via Youtube, Duke screenshot via Youtube, Lincoln screenshot via Youtube, Murfee screenshot via Youtube, Phoebe photo via Emily Ruth Verona]

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