DITMARS — A cat was found dead on an Astoria street with a "smashed" rib cage and pieces of concrete and sticks around its body, according to a witness, and police are investigating the case as possible animal cruelty.
The cat was discovered around midnight Sunday on 21st Avenue between 33th and 35th streets, and a resident who was among those to find the body says the animal's rib cage appeared "completely smashed."
In the wake of the cat's discovery, the resident, Paul Santell, 37, and other concerned cat lovers posted fliers asking for help in finding whoever "terrorized" and "brutally murdered" the cat, nicknamed Bobby.
The posters offered a reward "for information leading to the arrest of these murderers."
Santell lives a few blocks from where the cat was found and said he recognized the animal as a stray that he would sometimes feed.
"He was a very sweet cat," said Santell, who reported the animal's death to the police.
"He was definitely an outsider — he didn’t belong to a colony at all," he said of the feline, which he nicknamed "Bobby" because he resembled a bobcat.
"He moved a little slower than the rest. He might not have been completely wild."
Santell said he was in the area Sunday night to feed his regular colony and release a feral cat he'd recently taken to get neutered when he was alerted to Bobby's body by another caretaker.
"His rib cage was smashed in. There was some kind of cut on the side of his body," said Santell.
He said there were twigs around the animal as well as chunks of cement placed on its tail, near its stomach and under its chin. The sticks and cement are visible in pictures Santell took at the scene.
Police did not have details on the animal's injuries. They said that a witness observed an unknown man standing over a cat on the sidewalk before running east on 21st Avenue. When the witness approached, he found a dead cat, the NYPD said.
Santell said he had seen a group of men in the spot where the cat was found shortly before the animal's body was discovered. He said the group was standing in a "very tight circle," that took up the width of the sidewalk.
Police said there have been no arrests, and the investigation is ongoing.
The ASPCA will be performing a necropsy on the cat at the request of the NYPD, according to a spokeswoman.