A woman has been arrested in the US on animal neglect charges after she was found with 42 cats in her car – including one that was dead.

Police in the west coast city of Warrenton, Oregon spotted the woman's vehicle in a parking lot and realised it matched the description of one placed on a wanted list earlier this year.

Dispatchers confirmed the car's owner had outstanding arrest warrants against her for animal cruelty. They also warned the attending officer she may have cats in the vehicle on which he would need to check.

Approaching the car as it was stationary in the Fred Meyer supermarket parking lot, the officer said he was hit with an "overwhelming" smell of cat urine and faeces.

The driver, Kathryn St Clare, 58, told him there were about 30 cats inside, including one that had died a couple of days ago.

Inside were found 41 live cats, who were given fresh water and food before being taken to a local animal shelter.

The dead body of one other cat was also found. Investigators did not say how or when it had died.

St Clare, of Lake Stevens, Washington, was taken to Clatsop County Jail where she was held on the two outstanding warrants and charged with 30 counts of animal neglect.

A spokesman for the Warrenton Police Department said: "The investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be filed."

One of the cats seen looking out of the car window Warrenton Police Department