"I'm not a cat," the lawyer pleaded.

Going to court can be a mundane and routine day for most lawyers; however, February 9, 2021, was not one of those days. On this day, a fluffy white cat appeared in a virtual court hearing held over Zoom and had the whole world talking. 

As Jerry L. Phillips and H. Gibbs Bauer prepared for Texas' 394th Judicial District Court, they noticed something odd about their colleague, attorney Rod Ponton. When he arrived on the Zoom call, he was not a lawyer at all, but an attorney at paw. 

Ponton, a county attorney in Presidio County, Texas, tuned into the Zoom call as a fluffy, white cat and had no idea how to turn off the filter. As his colleague, Gibbs Bauer attempted to help him take off the cat facade, Ponton's cat eyes frantically darted back and forth in a cry for help. However, as lawyers are known to quickly and calmly adapt to any situation, Ponton held his chin high and proclaimed, "I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live. I’m not a cat."

The cat filter that was applied over Ponto's screen is actually not a Zoom feature, but rather a decade-old software called "Live! Cam Avatar," which comes pre-installed on Dell laptops. According to Ponton, he was using his secretary's computer that day and she was extremely mortified by the entire mix-up. He, on the other hand, enjoyed the mishap and was glad he could make people laugh. 

"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," Ponton said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. And laugh they did. People all over the world have shared the hilarious Zoom call mishap and thanked Ponton for providing them with a little laughter through uncertain times.


If you had been able to see Ponton's face through the cat filter, you may have recognized it as this is not the attorney's first time in the public eye. He also appeared in the last episode of the Netflix docuseries, The Confession Killer back in 2019. Ponton represented convicted murderer Henry Lee Lucas during a trial in El Paso, Texas, in 1986. Lucas confessed to committing over 200 murders across the United States, but his confessions are now thought to be complete fabrications.

Ponton famously described Lucas as "the guy telling the big lie, sort of winking at everybody. He turned into a quote-unquote evil celebrity."

Have you had any similar mishaps over Zoom? Were you turned into an animal for an important work meeting? Let us know in the comments.