Sorry no pics with this one (the camera would have freaked Howard the Cowardly Cat out even more), but the story is cute. A few days ago, my boyfriend went rollerblading and came back with a handfull of helium balloons tied to a sandbag weight. I'm a kid at heart, so I was amused and thrilled by them. I put them in the center of the kitchen we and went about our busy day. Well, around dinnertime, we noticed Howard was missing. Normally whenever we have food, Howard and Luna are there begging for scraps (they wouldn't eat half of it, but they want it because it's our food and they think it should be their food), but this time...no Howard. After dinner, I went on a hunt for the missing cat. I tried all his favorite hiding places, like under the clawfoot bath tub and behind his favorite chair, and some strange hiding places. No Howard. I was worried he might have gotten outside (he and Luna are strictly indoor cats) when I found him squished in the space between the sofa and the end table, half hidden by a blanket I keep stashed there. He was scrunched into an impossibly small ball of fur and his eyes were HUGE. I thought he was stuck, so I moved things around so I could lift him out. He resisted with all his weight and as soon as I got him out, he ran back to his hidey-hole. Jim finally realized what was wrong: A stray balloon had escaped and floated to the corner above the sofa, right near where Howard was hiding, and Howard was scared of it. Poor thing. I got rid of the balloons (hid them in the closet) and Jim and I spent the better part of the next hour petting Howard and comforting him and giving him lots of love. He sucked it all up like an attention sponge and asked for more--which we happily provided several times before bedtime. We even gave him a bite of the rainbow sherbert we know he loves. The next day Howard was back to his old self. Looking back, I think he tricked us. I think he used the balloon to pretend he was freaked out so we would give him some extra attention (he gets a lot to begin with) and special yummy treats. If this is the case, Howard sure is one smart kitty.