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Animal Rescuer Sues 'Crazy Cat Lady' For Refusing to Return Her Tabbies

By Heather Holland | April 17, 2013 6:44am | Updated on April 17, 2013 8:53am

GRAMERCY — An animal rescuer is suing a self-described "crazy cat lady" for refusing to return two tabbies that were temporarily placed in her care, court documents show.

Marilyn Speier, an animal rescuer who lives in Gramercy, left her cats Gigi and Brooklyn Boy with Dr. Marcia Pehr, a Gramercy-based osteopath, so that Pehr could care for them temporarily while Speier searched for someone to adopt them, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

But when Speier asked for the cats back, Pehr — who referred to herself as a "crazy cat lady" in a documentary about her love of felines on USA Network's Documentary Channel — refused to return them, according to the lawsuit.

Speier also accused Pehr of failing to give the cats proper care and keeping them in an “unwholesome and unhealthful environment,” the lawsuit says.

Court documents do not offer specifics about the cat feud, but Speier's attorney said that until this incident, Speier had been able to leave cats with Pehr without fearing she'd keep them for good.

“They had done it in the past, where [Speier] would leave the cats with [Pehr] until she could find a person to adopt them,” said Karen Copeland, Speier’s attorney. “It was a temporary stop for them.”

Pehr did not return requests for comment. 

In the past, Pehr took in a number of cats from animal rescue groups such as City Critters, and fostered them until they could find good homes, according to the short film about Pehr called “Woman with Cats” that aired on USA’s Documentary Channel.

“When a woman has two cats, they're pets, but once a woman goes over [a] crucial third cat, you become a ‘woman with cats,’” Pehr said of herself in the film. “Then from there, it’s just a short downhill slide to the ‘crazy cat lady’ with 48 cats that is found half-devoured by her pets when she dies.”

The short documentary shows Pehr living in her East 18th Street home with at least five other cats, and she admitted that her living situation had been noticed by her neighbors.

“I think [my neighbors] think my yard or porch, in which I do a lot of Dumpster diving, is a lot untidier than they’d like to see," she said in the documentary. "But hey, it’s my yard and my porch — so, tough."