Japan and Russia are exchanging furry gifts in an attempt to ease tensions by tugging at their leaders’ animal-loving hearts.

The “pet diplomacy” started in July when Governor Norihisa Satake sent one of Akita prefecture’s famous canine to dog-lover Russian President Vladimir Putin as a thank-you gift for Russia’s aid during the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Mr. Putin has two dogs which were also gifts from a Russian army general and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mr. Putin decided to return the favor to Gov. Satake by giving him a Siberian cat in July. However, the feline was held up in quarantine. A person familiar with the matter said, “As a rule, animals from some countries must spend 180 days at a quarantine before entering Japan to prove they don’t have rabies.”

Russia seems put off by the delay. Russian daily, the Rossiystkata Gazeta, described the quarantine as “an overly strict sanitary requirement”.