updated 5/24/2006 6:50:08 PM ET 2006-05-24T22:50:08

Maybe Mr. Kibbles will know better the next time he's looking for a litter box.

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Christopher Cortes, 33, and wife Iris Zuckerman, 33, were sentenced Thursday to 100 hours and 50 hours of community service, respectively, for snatching the black cat from their neighbor's home and leaving him in the Everglades.

Police said Cortes was upset the cat used the back of his pickup truck as a litter box and scratched it.

Cortes, a firefighter, drove the cat 15 miles into the Everglades and left him there to fend for himself in February 2005, police said. The couple had pleaded no contest to petty theft and declined to comment after the hearing. Police said Cortes told them he took the cat.

Maggie Leonard, the 12-year-old owner of the cat, said Mr. Kibbles made his way back to his Coconut Creek home two weeks after being left. At first her kitty behaved "weird," but was quickly back to being his own self, she said.

The young girl said she's disappointed in Cortes and his wife, who were close friends of the family. She said firefighters should be saving cats from trees, not stealing them.

The charges will be erased from their criminal records if they complete community service and they pay several hundred dollars in court fees. Defense attorney Peter Patanzo had suggested that his clients be allowed to pay fines instead of performing the service, but the judge refused.

Maggie said she was satisfied with what happened in court.

"That's what they get for taking an innocent cat," she said.

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