updated 01/25/2012 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/28/2012 AT 10:00 AM ET
“I love Kyle, he’s my best friend,” the country star told PEOPLE at the New York City unveiling of a cat sweater to benefit the ASPCA. “The only complaint that I would have with my husband is that I had to give up my cat.”
Pickler’s cat, Pickles, had been with the singer since 2006, when she wrapped American Idol. “I adopted him from an animal shelter out in Tennessee,” she said. “He was my best friend. He went with me everywhere.”
Pickler and Jacobs dated for four years, and when it came time to make it official, Pickler had to make a choice. “My husband’s allergic to everything – he’s, like, allergic to air,” she explained. “So, unfortunately, I had to find my cat Pickles a home with a family back in North Carolina.”
Saying goodbye to her beloved pet wasn’t easy. “I cried, I was devastated,” said Pickler, wearing the cat-themed Kitty Crooner sweater she helped create with fashion line Geren Ford. “My husband’s going to be so sad when he reads this.”
But the newlywed knows she made the right choice.
“Every time I look at my hand, I go, ‘Good God.’ What’s behind this ring is such unconditional love, trust and respect. I see my husband every time I look at my ring. I’m a blessed woman – I have a good man.”
As for her lost cat love, Pickler says she’s living vicariously through friends with felines and helping to advocate for her favorite animal.
“Cats kind of get slighted sometimes,” she said. “And there’s the stereotype about people that love cats – they call us crazy cat ladies. I’m crazy, but it’s not because I love cats.”
Kellie Pickler’s new album, 100 Proof is out in stores this week. The Kitty Crooner Limited-Edition Sweater is available for pre-sale at the ASPCA web store.
[RELATED_TEXT “Can’t get enough pet news? See more on PEOPLE Pets