Ivan the mysterious Russian cat was brought to the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter on Jan. 2.

Let’s say a kitty shows up at the local animal shelter, a particularly aloof black cat with a severe mien. And when workers check out his microchip, its from – really – Russia. And let’s say this happened in Idaho Falls, hope to the U.S. government’s Idaho National Laboratory. And it comes against a historical backdrop of unsuccessful CIA experimentation into using cats as subtle, slinky spies.

Now, I’m particularly cat-deprived these days, having lost my beloved 19-year-old Tiger last month, but this mysterious tale immediately grabbed me with its international feline intrigue. Fortunately for all of us, the Idaho Press’s sister paper in Idaho Falls, the Post Register, looked into the mystery, and scratched down to the bottom of it. Without dropping spoilers here, I can say the INL is safe, despite the perceptiveness of a particular black cat’s whiskers. You can read the full tale here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or check out the reports at postregister.com or localnews8.com, which first reported on the puzzling shelter find.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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