Nellie Marie Palacios

A Santa Maria woman has been arrested on animal-cruelty charges for allegedly fatally stabbing a cat at her ex-boyfriend’s Orcutt residence, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff’s deputies responded about 3:30 p.m. Thursday to report of an animal-cruelty case at a residence in the 4600 block of Hummel Drive in Orcutt, said Kelly Hoover, a  sheriff’s spokeswoman.

She said a male resident had called 9-l-l to report that his girlfriend, 43-year-old Nellie Marie Palacios, had gone into a home she said belonged to her cousin, and was removing paintings off the walls. 

The caller said he witnessed Palacios choking a cat at the residence before stabbing it with a large kitchen knife.

When deputies arrived, they found Palacios in the yard and detained her, Hoover said.

“They then found the cat nearby in an igloo style doghouse,” Hoover said. “The cat had been fatally injured as a result of being stabbed.”

She said the knife used in the attack was located under the doghouse covered with blood and cat hair.

Palacios claimed the cat had attacked her, and that she was acting in self defense, Hoover said.

Deputies determined the residence did not belong to her cousin, but was the home of her ex-boyfriend. 

Several paintings from the home and other items were discovered in Palacios’ car, Hoover said.

Palacios was arrested on charges of burglary and animal cruelty before being transported to a local hospital for treatment of scratches.

She was later transported to the Santa Barbara County Jail, where her bail was set at $50,000.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.