(NEXSTAR) – The teary-eyed kitten face that trapped a Texas attorney during an online meeting – to the delight of the internet – is not the Zoom filter it appeared to be.
In the aftermath of Texas lawyer Rod Ponton’s Tuesday mishap, Twitter users began investigating, trying to track down the filter before their next meeting or class.
Some assumed that the overlay, which shows the cat’s eyes and mouth moving in perfect complement to Ponton’s bewildered exclamation, “I’m live, I’m not a cat!” was a Snapchat effect.
The answer appears to date further back, however, to Dell webcam software from over a decade ago. The BBC reports that the filter is part of Live Cam Avatar that is pre-installed on some computers.
A search of the help forums shows multiple references and photos of a “sad kitten” taking over their avatars during Skype chats, dating back to 2010.
“Surely, Dell must be going nuts with calls and complaints by now,” one person commented. “I have eliminated the program several times only to have the cat keep returning.”
On a blog called ChemBark, the author recounts a horror job interview:
“While I could see the search committee just fine, they saw me as a sad kitten. I know this because (i) I could see my feed in a small box on my screen, and (ii) the professors on the committee were looking at their screen and chuckling. What’s worse is that every time I talked, the kitten’s mouth would open and close. I was mortified.”
That same person weighed in on Twitter this week to explain that it turned out to be the default setting on Dell’s webcam software.
While more is known about the filter, it’s still not clear how Ponton wound up behind the glassy eyes of a kitten during his meeting with the 394th Judicial District Court this week.
In his near 40 years of practicing law, he has never experienced a day quite like Tuesday.
Ponton, who is the county attorney for Presidio County, said his phone has been ringing “nonstop” since his newfound fame.
“Within an hour and a half of that hearing, I started getting phone calls from around the country,” he recalled. “I didn’t know if I was in trouble.”
“By that time, as we say in Texas, the toothpaste was out of the tube.”
Ponton is taking his viral fame in stride. And the world is certainly laughing with him.
“It feels great,” he said. “The world needed a laugh to let out a collective sigh of relief.”
When asked what he would do with his newly minted celebrity, Ponton didn’t hesitate: “Keep making people laugh.”
The YouTube video of the kitten mishap, which you can view above, has been seen over 5 million times.