There comes a time for every lonely woman when she must face the most defining decision of her life: considering whether or not to buy a cat, and possibly embracing cat lady-status. Retired waitress Barbara Pinchbeck, 70, had already owned several cats over the year, but she decided to take the plunge one more time and adopt a friendly feline from a Westchester animal shelter. But instead of a cuddly indifferent life-partner, she claims she got a vicious, evil bitch: "It was snarling, hissing and bearing its fangs. It leaped 6 feet in the air and landed on my hand. It bit through my two fingers," Pinchbeck told the News.

The bites were so bad, Pinchbeck says she lost the use of one hand and nearly had it amputated during a weeklong hospital stay that cost her thousands of dollars. "I wanted to die it was so bad," she said. She's suing the For the Love of Animals shelter who sold her the cat, whose name is Wheezer. Owner Jamie Turell admitted that it wasn't the kitty Pinchbeck wanted but convinced her to keep the cat for one night. When Turell went to check on Wheezer some time later, Pinchbeck demanded she take her back, but the shelter owner was afraid to retrieve Wheezer alone. "She needed her friend to get the cat. She was afraid of her own cat," Pinchbeck alleged.

Not only does Turell's lawyer not think Pinchbeck has a case-he also loves him some corny jokes: "It was a very nice pussycat. The plaintiff is the only one who's talking, because the cat's not saying a word." By the way, she is suing the shelter for a whopping $2 million, which could pay for quite a lot of replacement friends cats.