Zoom Filter Hilariously Turns Lawyer into Cute Kitten During Viral Live Court Hearing: 'I'm Not a Cat!'

Jason Duaine Hahn
·3 min read

Attorney Rod Ponton doesn't quite know how he transformed into a kitten during a virtual court hearing this week, but he's happy people are getting a laugh out of it.

The 69-year-old Texan went viral after he couldn't figure out how to turn off a Zoom filter that morphed him into an adorable kitten after signing in to a hearing on Tuesday.

The video — which was published by the 394th Judicial District Court of Texas and tweeted by Judge Roy Ferguson — shows Ponton hidden behind the cat filter, whose eyes and mouth move as he speaks and looks around.

"Can you hear me judge?" Ponton is heard saying in the video.

"I can hear you," Judge Ferguson replied. "I think it's a filter."

As Ponton continues to struggle with the app, the cat's eyes move around the screen in panic.

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"I don't know how to remove it," he said. "I've got my assistant here and she's trying to remove it, but uh, I'm prepared to go forward with it."

"I'm here live," Ponton reassures the judge. "I'm not a cat."

The 42-second video has already received nearly 1 million views just within a few hours of the hearing.

And for anyone left wondering, no, Ponton is not a real-life cat:

Courtesy Rod Ponton

Ponton, who has practiced law for nearly four decades, tells PEOPLE he doesn't know how the filter turned on when he opened up Zoom on Tuesday morning.

He says he was using his secretary's laptop, and she, too, had no clue how it appeared.

"It was a status hearing on a routine forfeiture case and the district judge is handling all the cases by Zoom," Ponton said during an interview with PEOPLE. "I used the computer in a remote office that I have in Presidio. [using] my secretary's computer. So I just logged into Zoom to have the hearing and instead of my face popping up, up pops the cat to my great surprise."

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"I was like, 'Oh, s—,' " Ponton — who says he largely kept his cool during the mishap — recalls. "But you're in a district court hearing, so I'm trying to get the filter off or continue the hearing, whatever the judge wants."

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Schools and employers around the country have adopted video conferencing in lieu of in-person meetings following the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year. But, as Ponton's example shows, things don't always go as planned.

"It's just one of those little snafus in life," Ponton says, adding that he was able to remove the filter a short time later and proceed with the hearing free of technical difficulties.

"If someone can get a chuckle out of it," he adds, "I'll take it."