By M. A. De Neve

The Crazy Cat Lady was dead. Someone put strychnine in her catnip tea. Everyone knows I’m a crazy cat lady too, and we’d been feuding. Would that make me a suspect? I stared at the morning newspaper while I finished my coffee. Then I put food in the cats’ bowls and cleaned litter pans. Would the police interrogate me? Was I a suspect?

In the last few days our feud had gone public: The War Between the Crazy Cat Ladies. It started when she offered to “give” a pedigreed cat to our rescue group and then...

The doorbell rang.

I didn’t know the man who stood outside the door. He could be a cop. I watched him from an upstairs window for awhile, and then I thought what the hell. I’d talk to him. Briefly.

When I opened the door, he was on his cell phone. I stepped outside and closed the door behind me. I couldn’t take the chance of one of the cats getting out. I was already in trouble with a neighbor for lecturing him about keeping his cat inside. It could get hit by a car, poisoned, or shot. I wish people would keep their cats safe indoors. Mine never go outside unsupervised. I keep my cats safe.

But I wasn’t safe anymore. Not if someone was killing crazy cat ladies.

“Talk to you later,” the man said to his phone, and then he flashed me a smile. “Tom Herald. Daily News.”

“What can I do for you, Mr. Herald.”

“Amanda Ruth, television’s Crazy Cat Lady is dead.”

“Yes, I read that in your newspaper this morning. Did you write the story?”

“You weren’t answering your phone.”

“I had it turned off.”  I was answering calls for PRAIN, People Rescuing Animals In Need. I take their calls from my home. We use call forwarding.

“Amanda Ruth recently declared war on your organization.”

“I am aware of what she was doing.” I assured him.

She had dumped a pedigreed Russian Blue on us. She claimed the cat was worth over a thousand dollars. We declined her offer. We had a hold on cats because there are so many homeless cats, and we have limited funds and limited room for them in the few foster homes available. Anyway the cat was dumped on my doorstep. What could I do?

“You really told her off,” the reporter smiled.

“I didn’t know we were on the air.”

She’d called me. I had told her what I thought of breeders and more specifically what I thought of her. We’d already gotten complaints because some of her cats developed serious medical problems. She’s interested in “Cute” at that cattery farm she runs. Some serious diseases had been inbred in those cats. When the families discovered the problems, some of them couldn’t afford the vet bills. Others just didn’t want the fuss. Some of the cats got dumped on us and other rescue groups. It’s hard enough to find homes for healthy cats. And we didn’t need any more cats dumped on us.

Amanda Ruth was furious. She claimed she had given us the cat Fettuccini to support our cause. She also claimed we collected money for ourselves and killed the animals. Not true. She said she’d sue me and PRAIN for slander.

Reporters began calling me on the PRAIN line, on my home phone and on my cell phone.

There’s a pet overpopulation, I told them. Many shelters do kill the animals, but we are a rescue group. We find homes for as many as we can. There are just too many animals, and we have to turn away many people who call us for help re-homing their pets. Tom Herald had been one of the reporters who called me many times. Now he stood in front of me. I remembered that he had always been pleasant in our phone conversations and fair in his reporting.

“She’s been pretty brutal to you guys,” he said.

“Yes, she has been. She’s a television personality. She had her soap box to stand on. We’ve been responding the best we can, but funds have been drying up. We haven’t been able to help as many animals.”


Later that day, I brought Fettuccini to my vet.

“She’s beautiful,” a lady sitting across from me said.

I agreed.

The receptionist said “That’s Fettuccini, the cat that all the fuss is about.”


“She was given to our rescue group,” I explained.

“That’s the cat Amanda Ruth was murdered over,” the receptionist said.

I shook my head. “This cat and our rescue group had nothing to do with her murder. This was just a misunderstanding.”

The vet called me and Fettuccini into her office then.

“Shame to spay her,” the vet said. “Do you have her papers? I know someone who’d buy her.”

“We weren’t given her papers, and this cat will not be used for breeding. She will be spayed, and then PRAIN will adopt her out as a pet.”

“Okay. Okay.” the vet smiled. “But she is beautiful.”

“All cats are beautiful.”

The vet nodded agreement. “One cat I won’t be missing is that Amanda Ruth. She used to bring her cats here.”

“I thought breeders did the vaccinations themselves.”

“Checking for urinary tract disease. She’s been sued by a couple of her customers.”

“I don’t doubt it,” I said.


Tom Herald was waiting for me when I got home. “I’ve given you all the statements I’m going to give you,” I told him.

“I just wanted to let you know that someone on Facebook conducted a poll.  She asked her followers who they think murdered Amanda Ruth. You’re the leading suspect.”

“From what I know of her business practices, I would have had to stand in line to kill her.”

“Rumor has it the city was going to close down her cattery.”

“That would have been a good thing. She wasn’t a reputable breeder.”

“What would have happened to the cats?”  Herald asked.

“We would have gotten some of them. The other rescue groups would take as many as they could. Some would go to city pounds, but because she was a TV personality and rag dolls are a popular breed, more cats would get helped than usual. Some would probably have to euthanized. That’s what happens to lots of pure bred animals. They end up in shelters. Groups like ours can only help so many animals.”


Later that afternoon, I was on the PRAIN phone line.

“Hello, People Rescuing Animals In Need. This is Catherine; what can I do for you?”

“Are you that lady who told Amanda Ruth off on the air? On her own TV show.”


“Hello, People Rescuing Animals In Need. This is Catherine; what can I do for you?”

“I’ve got a cat living in my garage. Can you take it?”


“Hello, People Rescuing Animals In Need. This is Catherine; what can I do for you?”

“Help. I don't know what to do. My boyfriend gave me a dog for my birthday yesterday. He said it was spayed and everything.”

“Happy birthday.”

“It just had 14 puppies in my bathtub. I don’t know what to do.”


“Hello, People Rescuing Animals In Need. This is Catherine, what can I do for you?”

“Are you the crazy cat lady?”

“Some people call me that. How can I help you?”

“I murdered Amanda Ruth. I worked for her. I saw how bad it was. All those kittens. Some were sick. She wanted me to kill them. I couldn’t do it.”

“Where did you get the strychnine? Wasn’t that the poison used?” 

“Amanda Ruth had it. That’s what she uses to you know – to kill the cats she can’t sell.”

“Isn’t it bitter? Why didn’t she recognize it in her tea?”

“She adds sugar, lots of sugar. She complained about the taste, but took another sip and then another. It was enough.”

In the background I heard emergency sirens. “I called the police,” she said. “I told them what I did. They’re here now.”

“I have a friend who’s a good lawyer. I could call her for you. Would you like me to do that?”

“I made another cup of tea. I’m drinking it now. I won’t need the lawyer.”

“I’ll call 911.” I started dialing my cell phone. I’d get an ambulance to her.

“The police are already here,” she said. “They’re at the door.”

“They can get an ambulance there fast,” I assured her. “Don’t give up.” 

“Will you come and get the cats?” she asked.

“Of course.” I’m the crazy cat lady.

M. A. De Neve is a retired college instructor, and author of two novels, “Broken Homes, Unkept Gardens,” and “A Sister’s Shadow.” She volunteers for the Pet Adoption Alternative Warren, and she really is a crazy cat lady.  

Copyright 2018 M. A. De Neve. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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