Penelope the cat, who was allegedly beaten so badly she had to be euthanized. Submitted photo

By Shereen Siewert

A Wausau-area man accused of beating his girlfriend’s cat so brutally the animal lost an eye and had to be euthanized was formally arraigned Wednesday in Marathon County Circuit Court.

Andrew Gehr booking photo courtesy of the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department

Andrew Gehr, 30, initially faced a misdemeanor charge of animal mistreatment in the case. That charge was met with an outcry from the public. Gehr’s charges were later amended to a felony charge of mistreatment of animals causing death and a misdemeanor charge of intentional mistreatment of animals.

According to public records obtained by Wausau Pilot & Review, Gehr made a statement admitting that he punched the cat, Penelope, and hid her in the shed when she was visibly injured.

The cat was discovered after officers responded to a home on Robb Street in Schofield for a family disturbance. The cat was injured so badly her eye was popped from its socket and her nose and mouth was encrusted with blood and dirt, according to court documents. Police found blood and urine, along with the cat’s bedding, which was stained with blood and had been thrown in the trash.

“I put the bloody wipes and sheet in the garbage on Saturday,” Gehr wrote. “I knew the cat was still alive when I put her in the shed.”

While Penelope lay suffering in the shed, Gehr pretended to help his then-girlfriend search for the cat, acting as though he knew nothing about her whereabouts.

“Later that night, I said maybe she got out, and played stupid,” Gehr wrote.

Gehr was arrested and taken to the Marathon County Jail. Penelope was taken to a local vet, who determined her injuries were similar to those which resulted from being “kicked by a horse, being in a dog fight or hit by a car,” the complaint states. The cat was euthanized due to the extent of her injuries, which likely resulted in total blindness and loss of brain function.

Gehr, in his statement, said he needs “help with his anger.”

A pretrial conference is set for July 19 for Gehr, who is free on a signature bond.