Cats don't get enough respect, Pam Dowell believes. That's why she fought so hard to get justice in the presumed deaths of two cats she loved.

"Here's the thing: Everybody's dismissive of cats," said Dowell, who lives in Cohasset, Minn., an Itasca County town of about 2,700 people near Grand Rapids. "I believe if this was a dog, there would have been immediate action."

Dowell got action this week when her neighbor, Steven Mishow, pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty in the disappearance of Dowell's 10-year-old cat, Olivia, and a feral cat, Emerald, that Dowell had fed and looked after for years. The two cats, and a neighbor's cat named Pumpkin, vanished on a stormy September night. Dowell and her neighbors believed that Mishow had something to do with it and pressed officials for an investigation.

The missing cats set off a community dispute in Cohasset, as residents debated the case and took potshots at one another on social media.

When Mishow was interviewed by police about three weeks after the cats went missing, he expressed a loathing of cats.

Mishow ultimately admitted that he shot at some cats because he believed they were damaging his property, but didn't admit killing them.

He was originally charged with one felony count and two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. In a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to the two misdemeanors in the disappearance of Olivia and Emerald. The felony charge was dropped, and no charge was brought in the disappearance of Pumpkin.

Dowell said the cats were never found. "I'm looking forward to giving my victim's statement in court," she said. "I'm going to cry. I've been carrying a lot of pain."