The West Ham United footballer pleaded guilty on May 24 to “causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal,” the BBC reported. His 24-year-old brother Yoan, who is also a professional soccer player, pleaded guilty to a single charge of abetting the crime when he filmed the violence and posted it to Snapchat.
An RSPCA investigation uncovered new details about the incident. Zouma was reportedly enraged when the cat scratched a chair.
“I swear I’ll kill it, I swear I’ll kill it,” he says in the video.
In the video, the elder Zouma, 27, drop-kicks the Bengal cat “like a football” in the prosecutor’s description, and slaps it hard in the face with a shoe. Both brothers were laughing in the footage, and Zouma’s child was present.
His brother Yoan uploaded the clip to Snapchat, and it would have remained private if not for the disgusted reaction of a woman Yoan asked on a date.
“I don’t think hitting a cat like that is OK – don’t bother coming today,” she wrote in a message to Yoan Zouma, canceling their meet-up.
“I do not want to associate with people who find that funny, in front of a child as well,” she wrote.
The outraged woman reported the brothers, and condemnation was swift: Zouma lost several sponsorship contracts, including his most lucrative deal with Adidas, and he was fined $250,000 by his team, which is the maximum a Premier League club can levy against a player.
The brothers don’t yet know the full consequences of their actions. They’ll return to court for sentencing on June 1, and although Zouma has been contrite and has people vouching for him to the court, there may be other considerations after Zouma’s video apparently inspired others to hit their cats and post the videos online.
People who imitated Zouma’s animal abuse formed an online group, calling themselves the “Kick the Cat Club.”
“Since this footage was put in the public domain there has been a spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites,” Thames Magistrate’s Court prosecutor Hazel Stevens said.
In the meantime, Zouma’s two Bengal cats have been in the custody of the RSPCA. The cats, Bonbon and Cherie, didn’t suffer any lasting physical injuries from the abuse, and despite enduring trauma, the RSPCA said both cats are friendly and will be ready for rehoming soon.
“What makes this case even more sad is the way the video was filmed and shared, making light of such cruelty,” the RSPCA’s Dermot Murphy said. “We hope this case will serve as a reminder that all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, and that we will not tolerate cruelty.”
A week after a brazen thief stole a Portland family’s cat off their front porch, a pair of cat thieves were caught on security footage snatching a cat from a residential street in the UK.
The latter is not an isolated incident. A group of amateur sleuths, comprised of people whose cats were stolen and others concerned about the spate of thefts, found several of the missing cats listed for sale on a UK pet classifieds site, Pets4Homes.co.uk.
The latest cat-napping happened in East Birmingham, where home security cameras captured footage of a man and a woman creeping along a residential street shortly before 4 am, armed with cat treats, milk and a plastic bin and quietly searching for neighborhood felines.
East Birmingham’s Charlene Jones told the UK Sun that she was woken up by her dogs, who alerted her to intruders on her property.
“I didn’t notice anything until the dogs started barking, and I looked out the window and caught them in the act,” Jones said. “It all happened around 20 to four in the morning, at this point she was just putting the cat into the bin. I opened the window and the cat escaped.”
An angry Jones, whose own cat was stolen three weeks ago, confronted the thieves, who claimed they were working for a local animal welfare charity and were trapping strays.
“I went out and spoke to them and she started reeling off all these charity numbers and claiming she worked for them,” Jones said.
When Jones later reviewed the footage she recognized the cat, who belongs to a neighbor a few doors down the street.
“I feel angry,” Jones told the paper. “I have done my own research, she has been selling cats for eight months.”
Jodie Smith of Solihull, a town of about 123,000 about 18 miles from Birmingham, said her family’s cat, Arlo, was stolen in January. A friend later spotted Arlo on Pets4Homes, but the Smiths weren’t able to recover him.
“It’s awful, this is my daughter’s cat,” Smith said. “My daughter can’t go to bed with cuddles from her fur baby. She is absolutely gutted.”
Pet thefts on both sides of the Atlantic have been on the rise since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. As entire countries went into lockdown, demand for companion animals skyrocketed, leaving many shelters bare and breeders sold out.
Criminals saw an opportunity and began stealing pets, mostly dogs at first, from yards, homes and kennels, prompting the owner of one lost pet site to dub 2020 “the worst year ever” for dog thefts, according to the BBC.
With exotic cat breeds commanding large amounts of money on the open market, from a few hundred dollars for breeds like Persians to $20,000 for Savannah cats, opportunistic thieves began targeting felines as well. “Moggies,” cats of indeterminate origin or no particular breed, aren’t exempt either. Some may be stolen because thieves mistake them for exotics, while other thieves apparently find it worth their time to snatch cats that can net them $100 or more on sites like Craigslist and Pets4Homes.
In the UK, cat thefts have increased threefold within the last five years, a trend accelerated by the pandemic and the resulting scarcity of cats, especially those with breed pedigree. Police rarely recover the stolen pets, and authorities say some people are targeted after sharing photos and video of their pets online.
Stealing cats is especially easy in the UK, where the majority of people allow their cats to roam free outdoors and the idea of keeping cats strictly indoors is seen as cruel or improper, even though felis catus are domesticated animals and don’t have a “natural habitat.”
In the Portland case, no one has come forward with any solid information in the theft of Kiki the cat despite two relatively clear shots of the suspect’s face and extended footage of her approaching and taking the cat from the Autar family’s front porch on Feb. 20. Like the UK catnappings, the Portland suspect seemed motivated by profit: The family said their cameras also caught the woman checking for open car doors, and the way she grabbed and held the cat — holding him at arm’s length, dangerously carrying him by the scruff of his neck — indicated she saw him as an object, not a living creature.
Karina Autar told PITB on March 1 that her family hasn’t given up hope.
“We are all just getting by, we are coping by putting in all our energy [into finding] him,” she said.
In the UK, Jones is not the only person to confront the cat thieves. Amy Buckley, 29, told The Sun that the woman seen in Jones’ footage also told her she was an employee of an animal welfare organization.
“She came to mine around January, claiming she worked for the PDSA and that they’d had a report about a large number of stray cats in the area,” Buckley told the paper.
She said she was immediately suspicious because PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) is a charity run by veterinarians that provides care, not TNR or general trapping services.
PDSA confirmed the woman does not work for the organization, while local police told the paper they had taken several reports from people whose cats had been stolen and were investigating the thefts. Meanwhile, an RSPCA spokesperson urged caretakers to have their cats microchipped.
In the meantime the victims are trying their best to locate their stolen furry family members, but they’re also angry at the pain the thieves have caused families and children.
“There are other families going through the same heartbreak,” Smith said. “For a lady to have some money in her pocket, she is destroying little children.”
Sterling the cat is a cute and playful little guy, and no doubt would have his fans among those who love chonksters, but he has to lose weight.
That was the gist of the message posted by staff at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Michigan, who wanted to find a home for Sterling but also wanted to make sure his new human(s) would be dedicated to his health.
The silver tabby with a Buddesian coat pattern tips the scales at 30 pounds. Not only is the weight unhealthy, but it makes life as a cat difficult.
“We know, those plump cheeks are adorable. But obesity is terribly unhealthy for cats,” Humane Society staff wrote on Instagram. “Sterling is fastidious about hygiene, but can’t groom himself properly (we had to shave matted fur off his back). He’s so lively and playful, but can’t chase after toys. He’s curious about the world, but can’t jump up to look out the window. He’s so affectionate, but can’t comfortably snuggle with his people.”
An adopter has stepped up to the plate and given Sterling a new family, a deal that includes committing to working with a veterinarian to get the kitty to slim down. The Humane Society haven’t said who the adopter is, but Sterling’s adoption profiles disappeared shortly after the shelter’s impassioned plea on Feb. 9.
Zouma gets another shot
Kurt Zouma, the Premiere League footballer who earned himself worldwide condemnation over the last week for uploading a video showing him abusing his own cat, won’t lose his job due to the scandal.
West Ham United Coach David Moyes said Zouma’s actions were “completely out of character from Kurt” and compared the abuse incidents to drunken driving.
“He’s a really good lad and we’re going to get him some help,” Moyes told reporters. “Just like people with drink-drive offences have to go to classes to learn the reasons and the damage that can be done, the RSPCA are going to provide some courses for Kurt to understand about animals and how to treat them.”
Moyes says Zouma has repeatedly apologized, and he thinks the French national is sincerely contrite.
“But what do you do?” the coach asked. “Do you keep punishing people or do you give them a chance to make things right? All of us in life need second chances sometimes, and we’re going to give Kurt a second chance.”
The controversy flared up immediately after the UK Sun published a story about three short clips showing Zouma drop-kicking, slapping and throwing a shoe at his cat. The clips were filmed by Zouma’s brother, who can be heard laughing in the background, and involved Zouma’s son.
In his apology, Zouma said the abuse was “an isolated incident,” but said there was “no excuse” for his actions.
“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video,” the soccer pro said.
Zouma was fined £ 250,000 — equal to about $330,000 — which is the maximum amount the club could fine him under league rules. He also lost his primary sponsorship with Adidas, which issued a terse statement and immediately dropped the center-back from its roster, and insurance company Vitality pulled its sponsorship from the entire team. Two other sponsors said they would meet with the club to discuss the issue.
Zouma also surrendered both of his cats — the one who was abused in the video and a second feline — to the RSPCA, which is conducting an investigation. Like the SPCA in the US, which has its own law enforcement division, the RSPCA has the ability to file criminal charges in cases involving animal abuse and neglect.
The felines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Did you know the first Siamese cat to reach America’s shores was probably Siam, who belonged to First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes?
Back when Thailand was called Siam, U.S. ambassador David B. Sickels read that Mrs. Hayes — wife of Rutherford B. Hayes — was a cat lover and sent one of the now-famous Asian cats to the White House.
“I have taken the liberty of forwarding to you one of the finest specimens of Siamese cats that I have been able to procure in this country,” Sickels wrote to the First Lady in 1878. “I am informed that this is the first attempt ever made to send a Siamese cat to America.”
While we’ve written quite a bit about the famous cats who have occupied the White House over the years, the Hayes story and others are also detailed in a new article from Smithsonian Magazine, which marked the occasion of Willow the cat’s arrival by revisiting presidential pet history. It’s well worth a read if you like the idea of kitties roaming the halls of power and even sitting on one president’s lap during state dinners, eating at the table like humans.
Zouma and his brother thought they were being clever and funny when they uploaded a video showing the professional soccer player drop-kicking the poor kitty, throwing a shoe at it and slapping it in the face while Zouma’s child held the terrified pet.
The UK Sun ran a story about the video, which the Zouma brothers uploaded to Snapchat. The story went viral this week and Zouma has taken an enormous hit to his wallet and reputation.
Zouma’s club, West Ham United, fined the footballer £250,000, which works out to about $338,00, or 20 percent of his yearly salary. In a statement the club said it was the maximum amount it could fine one of its players.
Zouma’s primary sponsor, Adidas, has dropped him, while insurance company Vitality dropped its sponsorship of the entire club and other sponsors may follow.
And on Tuesday night in his first game since the scandal, Zouma was roasted by fans who showed up to watch West Ham play Watford at London Stadium. The rowdy crowd jeered every time Zouma touched the ball.
“Kurt Zouma, he plays at centre-back, he kicks his f—ing cat!” the fans chanted.
Finally, in a scene that played out like a divine condemnation of Zouma’s treatment of his kitty, a confused stray cat bolted onto the field and interrupted play during Tuesday night’s match between English League teams Wigan and Sheffield. Fans cheered as Wigan’s Jason Kerr carefully picked up the freaked-out feline and carried her off the field, risking a penalty for leaving the playing area during the game.
The British press didn’t miss the opportunity to contrast how the two football pros treated felines.
Team staff brought the tortoiseshell to a veterinarian who treated her for injuries, scanned for a microchip, and found she belonged to a family in Wirral, a town in northwest England.
The cat’s name is Topsey and she’d been missing for eight months. Alison Jubb, Topsey’s human, said she was going on vacation and was bringing Topsey to a cattery when the cat got scared and bolted out of her carrier. That was the last she heard of Topsey until late Tuesday night.
“My daughter-in-law rang me last night as they were watching the match and said there was a cat on the football pitch” who resembled Topsey, Jubb told the BBC. “I sort of laughed it off.”
But Jubb said she was no longer laughing when she received a call from a veterinarian telling her Topsey had been brought in by Wigan Athletic staff. Topsey was given pain medication and is under treatment for bite wounds, possibly from a dog, to her neck, per the BBC.
Topsey was reunited with her humans, while Zouma voluntarily surrendered his abused cat and his second kitty to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The sequence of events restored some hope to animal lovers in the UK, who were dismayed when police said they would not charge Zouma for lack of evidence, despite the video clips and Zouma’s admission that he abused his cat.
However, Zouma’s legal troubles aren’t over. The 27-year-old is a French national and could face charges in his home country, where the public was outraged by his behavior and embarrassed that a high-profile Frenchman would harm an animal.
Zouma has been condemned by French politicians and there are calls to remove him from the French national team.
In the meantime, the RSPCA is conducting its own inquiry into the abuse incidents.
“We’re investigating and the cats are safe and in our care,” the group said in a statement. “We have been dealing with this since before the clip went viral online and we need to follow the proper legal process and not discuss due to UK GDPR laws.”
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.