An American woman who marketed "gothic kittens" with ear, neck and tail piercings over the internet has been charged with animal cruelty and conspiracy.
Authorities in Pennsylvania charged the woman after a tip-off from an animal rights group, which said she was trying to sell the kittens online for hundreds of dollars.
Holly Crawford, 34, has said she will plead not guilty, and that she didn't see any difference between piercing a cat and piercing a human.
She said she used sterile needles and surgical soap and that she checked the kittens several times a day to make sure they were healing properly.
"When I did it, it wasn't with any cruel intentions," she told The Associated Press.
"They were definitely loved, well-fed, no fleas, clipped nails. And they were happy."
Daphna Nachminovitch, a vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the group that alerted authorities, called the piercings "barbaric".
"There's no excuse for inflicting such pain on an animal that's the size of your palm," she said.
Crawford, who sports her own body piercings, said she decided on a whim to pierce the ears and neck of a stray kitten she took in last year and named Snarley Monster.
She said she docked the cat's tail because it was badly damaged and that the animal was not intended for sale.
Authorities charged Crawford and an associate William Blansett, 37, with multiple animal cruelty and conspiracy charges.
Crawford said Blansett helped take calls about the kittens but that he had nothing to do with the piercings.
Crawford, a dog groomer, said her pet business had been ruined as a result of the charges.
"My name's ruined, my reputation's ruined, my business is ruined," she said