Police say a man bought a storage unit at an auction in New York City and found dozens of dead cats in two freezers.
Officers responded to American Self Storage in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City Monday evening.
Police say one freezer had frozen cats stacked on top of each other. In the other, police say they were individually wrapped in paper and plastic bags. One cat had been skinned.
About 40 cats were discovered.
The nonprofit American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has taken the dead cats into its custody for necropsies. The tests can't be performed until the carcasses thaw out.
Police are searching for an unidentified woman who originally rented the unit.
The NYPD Animal Cruelty Squad is investigating.
"Saddened deeply by the deaths of forty cats, American Self-Storage has made significant financial contributions to ASPCA shelters in Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island and three NJ counties where American Self Storage facilities are located," the company said in a statement.
"Self-storage companies do not examine the items which tenants store in their rented units, the way apartment landlords do not study each item which tenants bring into their rented rooms," the statement continued. "But we join in feeling the shock at the mistreatment of animals."