Canadian Court: Cat Torture Is Not Art

The National Post reports that the Ontario Court of Appeal this month rejected an appeal by convicted animal abuser Jesse Power after dismissing his claim that his torture of a cat constituted art.

Power is one of three men arrested for their involvement in making a video showing the three men torturing a stray cat. At the time Power was a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design and after being arrested claimed that the film was designed as an “artistic protest” against society’s treatment of animals.

The Court of Appeal was not buying that nonsense. Writing for the court, Justice David Doherty wrote,

While it may help those who cannot reconcile this act with [Power’s] character to rationalize his actions as some form of artistic endeavor or artistic commentary gone amok, that interpretation is inconsistent with the contents of the videotape.

Doherty also criticized the trial judge, Judge Ted Ormston, for the lenient 90 day sentence imposed on Power. Doherty described as “patently unreasonable” the logic that Ormston used to arrive at the conclusion that Power “did not intend that the cat should suffer . . . there is nothing in the videotape or in his subsequent conduct to suggest that he did not fully appreciate and, indeed, to some extent relish in the cruelty being inflicted upon this cat.”

The National Post offered a chilling description of the tape that, to my knowledge, has not been published before (warning this is rather gruesome),

With the three young men whispering in the background, the camera suddenly comes into focus.

The cat, a pretty creature with a white belly and a striped tail, is alone in a white-walled barren room of a “squat” with Power and friends. It appears nervous from the get-go.

“Killing a raccoon would be a helluva lot more exciting,” whispers one unidentified voice.

“Pillowcase,” whispers another.

“No, we won’t be needing that,” someone says.

A white mouse, atop an empty margarine container, is put before the cat, who barely looks at it.

“Pacifist kitty,” one man says.

“Here they come on the run with their fingers up their bum … on the Tom and Jerry Show,” sings another voice.

The mouse is held by the tail before the cat, who moves away.

“Should I mutilate it now?” someone asks.

A little later, Power asks, “How do you guys feel about being filmed?”, and one of the others asks him, “What are you going to use it for?”

“I don’t even know yet,” says Power.

Wennekers then fashions a noose in the wire that has been affixed to the ceiling.

“Let’s get to work,” he says.

“I want to cut open its belly while it’s still alive and watch everything move around,” someone says.

“Yeah, me too,” someone else replies.

Power suggests they just “slit its throat and let it bleed,” but one of his cohorts says, “We can do both. Gut it and slit its throat.”

They hang the cat, which immediately begins to struggle frantically.

Power says, “Why don’t we just kill it?”, but takes a black glove and a straight razor when Wennekers hands them to him.

Power saws at the cat’s throat, while Wennekers stabs at it with a buck knife, and over the next terrible minutes, with the cat howling in agony and twitching, the trio attack it in various ways.

Once, Power is seen bending close to the animal, staring at it while it cries; another time, he whispers, “Beautiful, man”; once, he wipes the blade of his knife on the cat’s head.

In the final scene, Power slits open the cat’s chest, and appears to inhale deeply.

Surely the appeals court was right that Ontario might want to expand the 6 month maximum jail term for the sort of scum who can do this.


Cat torture was not art: judges. Christie Blatchford, National Post, June 14, 2003.

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