Southern California

Alleged SoCal Cat Strangler Arrested

Police believe the cat was rescued from an animal shelter

A 23-year-old Southern California man is accused of strangling a cat to death at his girlfriend's home, police said Wednesday.

Police arrested Sergei Smirnoff, of Long Beach, about 1:10 a.m. in the 2300 block of Carnegie Lane in Redondo Beach, where police found a dead cat in the woman's garage, Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Shawn Freeman said in a news release.

Police believe the cat was rescued from an animal shelter.

"There is no indication that Smirnoff obtained the cat to cause harm to it," Freeman said. "It appears that during a fit of rage, Smirnoff strangled the cat, which resulted in the death of the cat."

Smirnoff planned to give the woman the cat for Christmas before they started arguing, the Daily Breeze reported.

Witnesses told police they saw Smirnoff with his hands around the cat's neck in the garage, according to the Daily Breeze, but the woman was unaware of what happened until police arrived.

Smirnoff was booked on suspicion of animal cruelty and held on $20,000 bail. He is due in Torrance court on Monday.

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