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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

They Thought He Was a Goner, But...

In a fresh twist to the tale of a man tried and convicted for throwing his cat to its death from a fifth-floor window after it ate his dinner, the cat has made a complete recovery and is living back at home, the man's wife said Thursday.

Vladimir Kotov, whose name translates as Mr. Cat, was convicted of cruelty to an animal last month by Judge Nikolai Vorobyov. The conviction was handed down on the assumption that Kotov had sent his 1-year-old cat Grishka plummeting to its death after Kotov caught Grishka in the act of eating ground meat intended for the family's dinner.

But Kotov's wife, Valentina, said Thursday that Grishka had not been killed in the fall, and had returned home two days later. She said Grishka was alive and well at home even while her husband was on trial July 21 -- but that her husband had been too timid to inform the judge.

"My husband kept silent during the court case," she said. "He had been humbled by the allegations. But nobody asked what had happened to the cat. They were too busy passing the sentence."

Judge Vorobyov was surprised to learn Thursday from a reporter that the Kotovs were claiming Grishka had survived the fall. But Vorobyov said in a telephone interview that his verdict was for cruelty to animals, and so the sentence of six months' community service and a 15 percent reduction of his wages for that period should stand.

Kotova said that she did not attend the court hearing because she was in the hospital at the time. But she also denied that her husband had ever thrown the cat out of the window in May. "The cat was on the window sill," she said. "He simply shooed it with a dishcloth, because he was frustrated it had eaten the meat, and the cat fell out."

The cat had landed in front of an 8-year-old boy and a police officer, greatly upsetting the boy. The boy's father, Yury Shirokov, filed a complaint against Kotov for killing the cat.

"It must just have been unconscious," Kotova said. "It is 100 percent back to normal now. It jumps up and down and runs and eats with a healthy appetite."

Kotova said she would like to appeal the sentence, given fresh evidence that the cat is alive.

"It is absolutely unjust that my husband should pay 15 percent of his wages when our cat is alive and well," she said. "He is the only breadwinner in the family, and we have two children to feed."

Kotov, who works as a driver at the Moscow Ventilation Factory, earns an average of 1,000 rubles a month from commissions.

Under article 245 of the Russian criminal code, cruelty to animals is punishable with a fine of up to 800 times the minimum wage, which comes to about $11,000, or two years in prison.

Animal rights activists, who earlier had said they were encouraged by last month's verdict, agreed with Vorobyov that the sentence should not be lifted.

Gennady Myznikov at the Clinic for the Protection of Animals said Kotov's sentence had been light. "The man should have gone to prison for what he did," Myznikov said.

There are no official statistics for the number of animal abuse cases in Moscow, but the Clinic for the Protection of Animals reports that three or four domestic animals are killed every week, mostly by hit-and-run drivers.