COURTENAY -- Warning: This story contains details that may disturb some readers

Residents of a townhouse complex in the Comox Valley are in shock after discovering someone smothered a cat in oil, secured its head in duct tape and threw it into a dumpster on Monday.

"Anybody that abuses an animal like that – it's not right. It's really, really horrible," said townhouse resident Angela Nazareno.

Nazareno's husband was the one who tried to cut the duct tape off of the cat shortly after it was discovered.

"The tape was wrapped right around its head, its whole neck, but you could see its stomach moving so I freaked and ran and got the scissors," she said.

The discovery was initially made by a group of young children who were playing in the complex. One of them went to the dumpster to try to retrieve a chair that had been tossed inside when he spotted the cat.

That's when parents in the complex were notified.

"My son came to me by that time and was crying. 'Mom there's a kitty with tape all around its eyes,' (he said) and he was just bawling and asking me to help it," said resident Holly Beech.

Once most of the tape had been removed from the cat, the seven-year-old feline named Miya escaped her rescuers and ran into a forested area across from the complex.

Megan Cruz was among those who assisted with finding the cat after it fled.

"Everybody, about 40 of us in the complex, spent about five hours looking for the cat and we finally found it in the forest," she said.

But Miya was still too spooked to come out until her owner, Stephanie Akoluk, came home to the shocking discovery that her cat had been tortured.

"I found her and I was so shocked at how I found her, with all the tape around her neck," Akoluk told CTV News.

Akoluk and her family then removed the remainder of the tape and gave the cat a bath in dishwashing soap to try to remove what was believed to be cooking oil from her body.

Now, those living in the complex say they are worried about their pets as well.

"There are a lot of cats in the area and that's one of the reasons we put a message up on Facebook, to warn our neighbours to keep their cats inside because we don't know who did this,” said Cruz. “It's a pretty scary thing.”

Beech, who was one of the first to see the cat, agrees.

"It's gross, it's absolutely disgusting," she said. "No person or thing, it doesn't matter what it is, should be hurt like that."

"Now that cat is probably going to be traumatized for the rest of it's life," she said.

Both the RCMP and the SPCA are investigating the matter.