MOSCOW President Dmitry Medvedev reassured Russians on Wednesday that his cat Dorofei was safe after reports that it had run away made him an object of satire on Twitter.
"About the cat. A source close to #Dorofei says he has not got lost anywhere. Thank you all for your concern!" Medvedev tweeted from a trip to Asia.
By then a newly created Twitter account in the cat's name had almost 400 followers and attracted many remarks making fun of Medvedev's subordinate relationship to President-elect Vladimir Putin.
"It's simple. I ran away from Medvedev because he promised to hand me over to Vladimir Putin. Help me hide!" @KotDorofey tweeted in a play on words after Medvedev said this week he would pass on a message from U.S. President Barack Obama to Putin after talks in Seoul.
Medvedev was overheard telling Obama: "I will transmit this information to Vladimir." In Russian, the same expression is used to say "hand over to".
Reports that Dorofei had been lost spread after a tabloid newspaper, Sobesednik, said he was missing and that appeals to find him had been posted on telephone poles in the elite Moscow suburb near Medvedev's official residence.
"Police are already nervous and searching for the cat under every shrub," it wrote beside pictures of the fluffy, blue-eyed cat, described as a rare Nevsky Masquerade acquired by his wife for about $1,000 in 2003.
Some Twitter users were sympathetic but many joked the cat showed good sense to make a break for it.
"'It's now or never,' Dorofei thought," Anatoly Srakarny tweeted.
"Run, #Dorofei, Run!" was another popular tag line.
Alexander Gorbunov joked: "Dorofei's owner should learn from his example. The cat has character and doesn't need to agree his actions with anyone!"
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel, editing by Paul Casciato)