Nearly a year after police accused a Chester County man of choking a kitten with a rope, kicking it, and injecting it with heroin, the animal has recovered, and its abuser, a drug addict, is trying to do the same.
James P. Myers, 25, of West Chester, pleaded guilty July 15 to one count each of drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, and cruelty to animals.
Myers' lawyer said his client was high on heroin last August when he tried to rescue the stray cat. Myers' family had rescued animals.
"This is a tragic story about the effects heroin has on good people and how it changes good people," said the lawyer, Evan J. Kelly.
Myers had tied a rope around the animal's neck as a leash, but then hallucinated and thought the cat was attacking him, so he kicked the animal, Kelly said.
Police officers recovered the cat from Myers' car, which contained dozens of needles and hundreds of empty heroin baggies, said Kevin Pierce, an assistant district attorney in the county's drug unit.
Whether he gave heroin to the cat was in dispute. Myers' lawyer said his client did not inject the kitten. A drug test showed no heroin in the cat's system.
Authorities said the animal became more responsive when given a drug that reverses the effects of heroin overdoses. A veterinarian and prosecutors said the drug could have worked its way out of the cat's system in the hours before the test.
After his arrest, Myers, who has no prior criminal record, went to drug rehabilitation. Myers' lawyer and prosecutors agree he is doing well.
His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15. Prosecutors plan to ask for a sentence that includes jail time.
The kitten, named Hope when found, now has a permanent home with the veterinarian who was on duty when the cat arrived at a Malvern clinic. Jennifer Magilton, who is in private practice, said the 1-year-old cat is normal, outgoing, and playful.
The cat's antics led her to rename him Mephisto, a term for the devil.
"Despite what he went through, he loves people," she said. "He's the type of cat, when you come home at night, he runs to come and greet you."