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A Lawyer Got Stuck in a Cat Filter on Zoom & Told the Judge, ‘I’m Not a Cat’

“I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

“I’m not a cat.” It’s not something you typically hear in court. Or anywhere else, I guess. Unless you’re dressed in a hastily constructed dog costume for Halloween. Nonetheless, it has now been said in a hearing.

Rod Ponton, a county attorney in Presidio County, Texas, appeared in a Zoom call as a cat during a February 9 hearing in Texas’ 394th Judicial District Court. He was briefly unable to change the filter that made him a feline attorney. In addition to being something you’ve probably never seen before, it was the perfect combination of a relatable Zoom mistake and, well, cats. It was probably inevitable that it spread rapidly across social media on Tuesday. 

Though Ponton may have been flustered at the moment, he sees the humor in the situation. “If I can make the country chuckle for a moment in these difficult times they’re going through, I’m happy to let them do that at my expense,” he told the New York Times in a phone interview. 

For a 43-second video, it’s packed with memorable moments. Judge Roy Ferguson tried to instruct a morose, possibly ashamed cat how to change its Zoom filter. Ponton gamely said he was prepared to make sure the hearing went on as needed, despite his cat predicament. And then there was his clarification. “I’m here live,” he said. “I’m not a cat.”

To the credit of everyone on screen, they handled the feline invasion with calm professionalism. 

Ponton says he was using his secretary’s computer, and, according to the Times, she was “mortified” by the situation. The lawyer isn’t on Twitter, so he didn’t realize how quickly the video spread. In real-time, the whole interaction lasted less than a minute before a human appeared in the lower right-hand corner. Still, his cat alter-ego will live forever in the hearts of gleeful tweeters. 

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