Animal Cruelty is a Warning Sign of a Serious Mental Disturbance

brown cat with green eyes
person demonstrating carton with slogan silence allows violence and abuse.
Photo by Anete Lusina on

Only the cruelest of people commit cruel acts with no remorse. Cruelty toward animals, and especially toward pets, is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser—it is a symptom of a deep mental disturbance that often results in future violence toward humans as well. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty toward animals rarely stop there; many of them move on to their fellow humans.

Red flags of abuse

If you see someone being abusive to an animal, it’s important to speak up and get help for both the animal and the abuser. It’s evil, and it can be a warning sign of something much worse. The connection between animal abuse and violence against humans is well-documented. RED FLAGS: The FBI lists cruelty to animals as one of the behaviors that signal potential future violent behavior, along with arson, bullying other children or animals, vandalism, substance abuse, and truancy.

What can we do against animal cruelty?

We can’t just sit back and do nothing while animals are being abused. We need to speak up and demand change. Animal cruelty is evil, and those who commit these acts must be held accountable. There are laws in place to protect animals, but they are not always enforced. We need to be their voice and fight for their rights. We can start by educating ourselves and others about the issue, and by supporting organizations that are working to end animal cruelty. Together, we can make a difference.


Animal cruelty is often considered one of the early warning signs of psychopathy. So, if you see someone being cruel to an animal, don’t just brush it off as just evil; it could be a sign that this person is dangerous.  Ruthless abusers typically choose victims who are vulnerable and less likely to fight back: animals, children, or elderly people. A man with a long history of violence against animals is six times more likely than other men to also commit crimes against people. Furthermore, according to criminal psychologists such as Anna Salter and Jon Roesler, animal abusers typically have borderline personalities or psychopathic tendencies which manifest in cruelty towards humans too. When they see people shying away from the task of dealing with their problem dog or cat, they take it as a sign that they’re doing something right and continue their way down the path of destructiveness until there’s nothing left but violence on every level. We need these sociopaths stopped before they hurt somebody else and sometimes create more innocent victims like themselves. –MM


A study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University found that 70% of animal abusers had also committed at least one act of violence against people.


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