Beating up a woman in Oklahoma could bring 90 days in jail. Kicking a cat is an entirely different matter; that's a felony that could mean years behind bars.

"It's absurd," said Georgie Rasco of the Oklahoma Coalition on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.Kicking a cat "is horrendous and I'm disgusted by that," Rasco said, "but as a women's advocate on domestic violence, it angers me we don't get the same response judicially when he goes out and kicks his girlfriend."

The disparity emerged recently in two cases involving Oklahoma City police officers.

Sgt. Aaron G. Watson is accused of slamming his girlfriend's head into a wall, dragging her by the hair, handcuffing her and kicking her. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

Sgt. Wayne M. Hlinicky is accused of maliciously kicking a cat at the airport. He's charged with animal cruelty - a felony. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $5,000.

Prosecutors say there's little they can do. There are no misdemeanor statutes in Oklahoma for animal cruelty, so any such charge has to be filed as a felony, Assistant District Attorney Richard Wintory said.

Assault and battery, on the other hand, is generally a misdemeanor unless a dangerous weapon was used or the victim's injuries were severe enough. The woman allegedly assaulted by Watson suffered a ruptured eardrum.

"We don't get to a felony until we get to maiming," prosecutor Gary Ackley said.

There's another disparity involved in the cases: Hlinicky would be automatically discharged from the department on a felony conviction. A misdemeanor conviction would not be automatic grounds to dismiss Watson.