Cruelty and neglect

Find out what constitutes cruelty and neglect, and how to help cats in danger.

Protecting cats from cruelty and neglect

Cats are protected from harm by law, and owners have a duty to meet their needs.

If you are concerned about a cat you should call the RSPCA's 24-hour cruelty line (England and Wales only) on 0300 1234 999

In Scotland, contact the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) on 03000 999 999

In Northern Ireland, contact the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) on 028 3025 1000

What constitutes cruelty and neglect?

The Animal Welfare Act is designed to prevent animal cruelty and create an obligation for owners to meet their pet's welfare needs:

  • for a suitable environment
  • for a suitable diet
  • to exhibit normal behaviours
  • to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Penalties for animal cruelty and neglect

The penalties for cruelty or failing to meet an animal's welfare needs include a ban from owning animals, a fine of up to £20,000 or, in some cases, a six-month prison sentence.

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