Relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest since the Cold War. Now, Britain is hoping to knock Russia off the top spot when it comes to the title of World's Best Cat - judged by TICA (The International Cat Association).
For a year, the cats have been fiercely defending their place at the top of the rankings, and shows have been held all over the world. The feline celebrities have been ranked as the very best by hundreds of judges. Their battle will come to a head at the LondonCats show, which runs from the 22nd-23rd of April.
Mowgleaves Stonehenge - Stone for short - is a well-built American Shorthair, who was born in Shoreditch where he has lived all of his life. He has held the title of World's Best Kitten since last May, and at a year old he is now an adult, so is fighting with the big boys for the coveted title of World's Best Cat.
His arch-nemesis is a Russian Scottish fold with a world-beating “owlish face” and crossed eyes. Stone is seen as an underdog compared to Rumfold Such a Flirt Shu-Ko, who currently holds the title.
Although in his first year of life, Stone has travelled more than most people will in a lifetime, and his journey to international cat super-stardom hasn’t been without calamity.
Because of strict restrictions not faced by other countries, Stone has to be smuggled through Amsterdam when he wants to leave the UK to go to the States. His owner spoke of the heart-stopping moment when he thought he had almost lost his prize-winning puss.
Steven Meserve said: “I was getting on the ferry heading back from Amsterdam. The carrier was partway open and the cat decided to jump by himself onto the ferry.”
The cat trotted off - but didn’t go too far. Mr Meserve admitted he was very worried when Stone jumped from the carrier, but said “I caught him obviously, then it was fine”.
It can be noted that unlike a slinky Siamese, Stone is very well-built. Some could call him rotund.
This, however, works in his favour. Much like Crufts, cats are judged on how well they fit the exacting standards of their breed, but according to the cat breeder “there’s less parading around”.
Mr Meserve said proudly: “No one has beat his score for the whole season. They are supposed to be a very stocky and muscular cat.” Because of this, he said a skinny American Shorthair wouldn’t win.
His owner, who runs PR for high-fashion brands such as Vivienne Westwood, explained why his cat is such a super-star: “The 100 or so judges he was judged by feel he fits the standard because of his beautiful head, green eyes and black and silver fur”.
However, the haunting face of the Scottish Fold means he faces stiff competition from Moscow. Rumfold Such a Flirt Shu-Ko is an exceptional example of the breed. His ears are so tightly folded down they can barely be seen - and his face is particularly “owlish”, which scores him more points.
When Stone isn’t competing or trying to escape from his carry-case, he loves nothing more than a cuddle. Mr Meserve said: “He’s so social, he’s been around everywhere, he’s traveled more miles than most humans.
“He’s super sweet. He’s gentle.
“He’s more like a dog than a cat. He sleeps in my arms the entire night. He’s been with me since he was born, he thinks I’m an equal.”