The imam was there to lead prayers for the gathered faithful, but to an affectionate cat, he seemed the most attractive target to climb and cuddle.
A video clip of the kitty jumping onto a robed imam as he led Tarawih, a featured prayer during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, went viral on social media.
Sheikh Walid Mehsas was reciting verses from the Quran, Islam’s holy book, at a mosque in Bordj Bou Arreridj, east of the capital Algiers, when the cat decided to mount an expedition for the summit of his favorite cleric.
While reaching down to hold and pet the cat, however, the imam showed pure professionalism, moving unfazed through the prayer, not missing a verse.
The gathered congregation, bowing in prayer, were none the wiser to the playful cat almost interrupting a sacred service.
The feline wandered casually around the imam’s shoulders, rubbing his face affectionately and taking an apparent interest in the stand-up microphone.
Having taken his fill of shoulder-roaming, the cat jumped to the floor to wander the mosque to his heart’s content.
A charming video clip of the 45-second encounter went viral across social media, drawing billions of views.
Anadolu could not reach the Algerian imam for comment, who was perhaps content to let the cat’s clear friendship with the cleric speak for itself.
*Ikram Kouachi contributed to this report.