'I'm not a cat,' Texas lawyer declares, after getting stuck in a kitten filter on Zoom

'If a child used your computer, before you join a virtual hearing check the Zoom Video Options to be sure filters are off,' the judge tweeted

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A Texas attorney had to declare himself “not a cat” when he got stuck in a Zoom filter during a routine hearing in a civil forfeiture case.

Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton appeared before Texas’ 394th Judicial District Court as a fluffy white kitten with big round eyes on Tuesday.

Judge Roy Ferguson later shared a 34-second clip from the hearing on social media with an important Zoom tip.

“If a child used your computer, before you join a virtual hearing check the Zoom Video Options to be sure filters are off. This kitten just made a formal announcement on a case,” Ferguson tweeted with a YouTube link.

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This isn’t the first time someone has accidentally appeared in a non-human form on Zoom. Last April, a woman joined a meeting as a potato and couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the filter.

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Ponton told The Washington Post that he was using his legal assistant’s computer for the Zoom call and they think her daughter had added the filter at some point.

Even through the face of a cat, Ponton’s mortification was clearly visible. The video begins with a wide-eyed kitten in the place where a 69-year-old man should be.

Ferguson was the first to address the cat in the Zoom room.

“Mr. Ponton I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings, you might want to …” Ferguson said.

The cat’s eyes darted fervently before the voice of Ponton responded: “Awwhh! We’re trying to — can you hear me judge?”

“I can hear you,” Ferguson said. “I think it’s a filter.”

“It is,” kitten Ponton said, nodding. “I don’t know how to remove it. I got my assistant here trying to …”

He trailed off before steeling himself: “I’m prepared to go forward with it — if that’s — I’m here live.”

And then, Ponton made the most wonderful declaration: “I’m not a cat.” Of course, these words were uttered by what was clearly a cat.

Ferguson paused before agreeing that the cat was not a cat. “I can see that,” he said.

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The Washington Post reported that Ponton eventually figured out how to remove the filter and the hearing was able to continue as normal.

“At first I was worried about it,” Ponton told The Washington Post on Tuesday, “but then I realized as it was going viral if the country could take a moment to laugh at my cat moment at my expense, I’ll take it. We’ve had a stressful year.”

Ferguson told The Washington Post that IT support is just part of his job now that court proceedings have moved online. At least this one has given the world a smile, he said.

“These fun moments are a by-product of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times,” Ferguson said on Twitter. “Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!”

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