The world held its breath as the cat of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was briefly reported missing.
" tabloid newspaper alerted readers to the alarming news that Dorofei, a pricey colorpoint Siberian forest cat, also known as a Neva masquerade, had escaped from the presidential residence in the Odintsovo suburb of Moscow and had so far eluded a police dragnet.
The missing-animal case quickly sparked a lively Twitter debate, with hundreds weighing in on the possible cause of #KotDorofei's disappearance.
Many of the tweets appeared to suggest that Dorofei, whose master will soon be vacating the presidential premises, prefers fresh meat to lame duck, as it were.
"#KotDorofei figured out there was nothing left to gain...and left!" wrote one Twitter follower.
"#KotDorofei and Labrador Koni -- the new tandem!" wrote another, referring to President-elect Vladimir Putin's black Lab.
"My cat Skyped with #KotDorofei a couple of days ago," said a third. Okay, that one was a non sequitur.
Not to be outdone, the tech-savvy Medvedev debunked the rumor via Twitter from India, ahead of a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) trade meeting in New Delhi.
"About the cat," the president tweeted. "A source close to #Dorofei says he has not gotten lost. Thank you all for your concern!"
"Sobesednik" later updated its headline to reflect Medvedev's remarks. The tabloid described the missing cat canard as an April Fool's prank.
Satirical Twitter accounts set up for both Dorofei and Koni -- @DorofeyCat and @VV_Dog -- have yet to offer comment on this latest virtual adventure.
But the portrait of Medvedev as a Twitter-tapping cat lover may only serve to further soften his already gelatinous political standing.
Medvedev, however, is in fact the owner of several dogs, three of which -- two English setters named Jolie and Daniel, and a golden retriever, Aldo -- have taken home awards from Russia's largest dog show
On his presidential blog, Medvedev has expressed his understanding of the canine character, saying: "A dog waits obediently to be fed. She is fed by her powerful master, and she is thankful. Sometimes she is not fed, but she is thankful nonetheless."
-- Daisy Sindelar