• Melinda Murphy

Catnip for the Masses

Updated: Feb 13

Little did Rod Ponton know when he woke up on a recent morning that he’d be the subject of a viral video by the time he went to bed — thanks to a #Zoom call gone awry.

Lawyer Rod arrived at a civil forfeiture hearing in a unique way: he appeared as a cat.


As the hearing started, Judge Roy Ferguson of Texas’s 394th judicial district told Rod “I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings.”

And it was that filter that made Rod look like a fluffy white and brown kitten. Try as he might, Rod couldn’t figure out how to turn the filter off. His frantic cat eyes were dashing about his screen looking for the answer. His assistant tried helping him. Even the judge tried to explain how to make the cat disappear.


My What's App went haywire as friend after friend sent me the newest viral video, each hosted by different news outlets.

The Guardian: “Texas lawyer, trapped by cat filter on Zoom call, informs judge he is not a cat.:


CNN: “Lawyer accidentally appears as cat in virtual court case"


NBC: “‘I’m not a cat’: Video shows lawyer can’t turn off kitten filter during Zoom court appearance”


Here’s the problem: while it’s fun to talk about the lawyer-turned-cat mistake, it’s actually not a smooth professional move. The feline filter is super cute if you’re a tween girl, but not for a lawyer appearing before a judge. It’s far better to be known for the case you won than the filter you couldn’t turn off.

Poor Rod isn’t the first to make a mistake. Hardly There have been hilarious mistakes and career-ending ones as well over the past year. The good news is that Rod’s oops isn’t a career ender. But it does show that people still aren’t getting that a bad Zoom call can be a viral nightmare.


Good gosh Getrude! When will people learn?

The whole globe as been doing business online for more than a year. At first, it was okay to be just okay. We were all doing the best we could just to get through the early days of working from home. But we’re a year in now. Being just okay is not okay. And truth be told, it’s very likely business going forward will continue to incorporate some sort of virtual calls.


The lesson here? Make sure your next Zoom appearance doesn’t turn into catnip for the masses. Learn to use your virtual tools and remember to log on well before your big meeting begins to make sure all is well before you start.

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