By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Megan Matteucci, email@example.com
Fauniel Kliemt, 86, is charged with stealing a cat. The Roswell woman says the cat, Shatzie, was a stray.
A Fulton County judge will decide who gets to keep the long-haired, blue-eyed cat.
Fauniel Kliemt, 86, was arraigned Tuesday in State Court on a charge of theft of lost or mislaid property, a misdemeanor. She pleaded not guilty.
The alleged cat-napping dates back to 2007 when Kliemt’s neighbor gave her the cat, who she named Shatzie.
“The cat was a stray. She had been going to my next door’s neighbor and he didn’t want her,” Kliemt said Tuesday. “I had just lost my husband and I opened the door, and she came in.”
Kliemt, who was recently widowed, fell in love with the cat. She took the cat to the veterinarian, where she got her shots and spayed.
About eight months later, Kliemt was outside gardening when Kimberly Otey, who lives across the golf course, approached. Otey confronted Kliemt and snatched the cat out of the elderly woman’s hands, Kliemt said.
“She got very loud and very verbal,” Otey said Tuesday. “I picked up the cat and was going to take her.”
Otey’s husband broke up the dispute and called police.
Several hours later, Roswell police showed up at Kliemt’s house and charged her with theft, Kliemt’s lawyer, Stephen Berk said.
Instead of taking the elderly woman to jail, police released Kliemt on a summons to court. Officers allowed Kliemt to keep the cat as long as she showed up to court.
Two years later, the case is still pending – and the cat is still in the middle of the neighborhood tug-of-war.
Kliemt, who has paid $1,500 on a lawyer, said the cat has been living with her for three years now and considers her house her home.
“She’s an inside-outside cat, but she always comes back here,” Kliemt said from her home in the Horseshoe Bend neighborhood. “She sleeps in my bed every single night.”
Kliemt maintains she had the cat for about eight months before any one came looking for it. She said she didn’t see any signs up for a missing feline.
Otey insists she and her family hung signs and went door-to-door looking for the cat, which was purchased for the family’s daughter when she was 4 years old.
“We thought she was dead,” Otey said Tuesday.
Both women have offered to buy each other another cat as long as they can have the white-haired feline back.
“At this point, I want the cat back,” Otey said, who gave police photos and records proving ownership of the pet she called Chloe. “I’m sure she is her companion now, but right is right and wrong is wrong. Just because you love something, doesn’t make it OK to take it and keep it.”
Kliemt, who has lived in Roswell for about 35 years and has no criminal record, said she just wants the charges dropped and to keep the cat.
“I’ll pay whatever to keep this cat,” Kliemt said. “That cat really helped me tremendously. We had been married 60 years and I was never alone before.”
Otey said she is trying to teach her daughter a lesson.
“You can’t explain to a little kid that it’s OK for someone to take something and not give it back,” Otey said. “I know she’s old and it’s a sad story. I just don’t want this to be portrayed that I should get over this. Age is not an issue.”
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