What’s more important than Russia?

Two gangsters, Putin and Prigozhin, face off in Russia. Meanwhile, our orange cat, Albert, is moving away.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting on tourism development via videoconference during a visit to Derbent on June 28

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting on tourism development via videoconference during a visit to Derbent on June 28.

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Everything I know about Russia, I learned from Fyodor Dostoevsky and Winston Churchill. Last week’s melodramatic events there reminded me of scenes of drunken chaos in “Demons,” the Russian novelist’s prophetic (and well-nigh unreadable) 1872 novel, with today’s two bloody-handed gangsters named Putin and Prigozhin as protagonists.

Both men would be well-advised to avoid tall buildings and open windows, is all I can say. Otherwise, Churchill got it right in a 1939 radio address about the Hitler-Stalin pact, with the Soviet Union joining Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland. The British prime minister unforgettably described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

Churchill added that only cold-blooded calculations of national interest could explain Stalin’s actions — miscalculations, actually, since fully 25 million Russians perished before the Nazis were defeated, a catastrophic victory the nation still hasn’t gotten over, and probably never will.

So, no predictions here. Only a prayer that the next Russian dictator, whoever he is, can make peace with Ukraine.

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Anyway, the big news around here is that our beloved cat Albert, aka “The Orange Dog,” will soon be moving away, the bittersweet end of an era in our domestic lives. We haven’t seen a lot of him of late, but it’s nevertheless been comforting to visit him now and then at Albert World Headquarters on our generous neighbor Laura’s front porch.

A self-described “Crazy Cat Lady,” Laura took Albert in after he decided he’d had enough of Aspen, our energetic collie/Great Pyrenees mix who delights in chasing any animal that will run from him. We don’t believe he’d actually hurt a cat, and Martin, our younger orange tabby, has accepted a deal where he comes in for the night after the dogs go outside.

But Albert’s always been his own man, and Albert’s not buying. At age 13, getting up there for a cat, he’s entitled to make his own decisions. He made his first big one at 3 months, when Maggie, our aggressive Anatolian/Pyrenees mix, stuck her face in his as he sat in a chair.

Roughly the size of my fist, Albert jumped on her head, which the dog thought was the best thing that ever happened. Maggie would carry him around in her mouth as if she were his mother. He grew up a full-fledged member of the pack. I have a wonderful photo of the entire Cypress Creek Farm security team sitting together under a tree on a warm summer day: two Pyrenees, a German Shepherd and Albert, The Orange Dog.

Albert used to follow me around the farm with the rest of the dogs and perch on wooden fence posts to let Mount Nebo, the Tennessee Walking Horse, nuzzle his fur. No other horses, only Nebo. He’d lurk among cud-chewing cows, hoping to ambush sparrows. An excellent hunter, he and our resident black snake exterminated all the mice in the barn. He started traveling about a quarter-mile along fence lines and through the woods to the neighbor’s barn to hunt.

Leery of coyotes, he moved like a wild animal when away from the big dogs — sprinting across open places to the next tree. Some afternoons, we’d walk across the pastures to fetch him. He’d rub-a-dub on everybody’s legs and follow us home. We must have made a comical sight: three guard dogs, two basset hounds and a Creamsicle-colored tomcat panting like a little lion.

Because I never fed him outdoors, Albert normally came running when called, his orange eyes bouncing in my flashlight beam as he came home for supper.

I was his person. Maybe Albert’s most remarkable moment was the time he got ready to fight Maggie on my behalf. She’d been picking on my wife’s elderly basset hound, and I was determined to punish her. We chased her down to the barn, Albert and I, with him all fluffed up and bouncing sideways — all 12 pounds of him versus her 120 — until the dog rolled over and submitted.

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But what really endeared Albert to me was the time I fell off Mount Nebo, broke three ribs and buggered up my hip. (Not the horse’s fault; I wasn’t paying attention.) To my amazement, The Orange Dog went from being an outdoor to an indoor cat for the duration. He spent weeks perched on the arm of my TV chair purring while I watched baseball and tried not to whine.

The dogs appeared not to notice.

I worried how he’d adapt to city life, but two days after we moved to Little Rock, he came walking atop a rock wall with a rat he’d killed to exhibit to the dogs.

Alas, Laura is moving across town and wants to take Albert with her. As he ages, he spends a lot more time indoors. Cats dislike moving, but Albert’s made his decision. He’s her cat now. I just don’t have to like it.

Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of “The Hunting of the President.”

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