A male tabby cat has been found strangled in Coventry.
Its body was found lying on Trossachs Road by a member of the public on Thursday, the RSPCA said.
Vet Elly Pittaway said she suspected a human was responsible for the death as the cord was wrapped so tightly around its neck it was embedded in its skin.
The RSPCA officer said she was "lost for words" at the terror and suffering the cat must have experienced. A criminal inquiry has been started.
Ms Pittaway, from Broad Lane Vets in Coventry, said: "The cat's body was rigid indicating that it had probably been there for a couple of days. I have never seen anything like it before.
"I can think of no way that the cat could have got itself into this position and it is not likely that the cord was put on the cat after death."
RSPCA inspector Rebecca Cooper said: "There are occasions in this job where words cannot express your feelings about an act of cruelty inflicted on an animal and this is one such occasion.
"I cannot bear to think about the pain, suffering and terror this cat must have endured. We must find out who was responsible for this criminal offence."
The adult tom cat, which had not been neutered, is thought to have been a stray from the local area.