Jason Louis Wilmert is being held in the Kern County Jail on charges alleging animal cruelty and using a pet or domesticated animal for food. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Neighbors called sheriff's deputies when they heard cats wailing and screeching at the 36-year-old's house in the Bakersfield suburb of Oildale.
Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt says he has "never seen anything like this."
Pruitt says investigators found evidence that led them to believe "he had the intent to use a cat for food," but he couldn't comment directly on the evidence. The case has been sent to the district attorney.
Wilmert is scheduled for arraignment on Friday.
The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.