Alley Cat Allies

Working With Law Enforcement to Protect Cats

If someone has made threats against the cats you care for, or if the cats have already been harmed or killed, you should immediately file a police report. Intentionally injuring or killing a cat is a criminal offense. See our information on what to do if cats have been threatened and what to do if cats have been harmed or killed.

Law enforcement agencies sometimes lack the interest, experience, or resources to investigate cases involving cat abuse. However, that doesn’t mean that these agencies shouldn’t respond to your complaint.

You may need to be persistent: Don’t take no for an answer. Sometimes it may take several phone calls, or you may need to speak to the ranking officer to get the level of cooperation you need.

If the agency you have contacted tells you they don’t investigate cruelty to cat complaints, ask which agency does. Sheriff and police departments are required to uphold laws, including those that protect cats. Virtually every municipality in the country prohibits cruelty to animals, including cats.

Use our How to Find Laws That Relate to Cats guide to research your local laws about cats. This will help you be better informed when you talk to law enforcement.

Tell the local agency exactly what the law states and why you feel that ordinance has been violated.

Once a report has been filed, local authorities are obligated to investigate. You should expect them to talk to you about the complaint. They should be able to give you an idea of their next steps and provide a copy of the paperwork.

Investigations take time, but if you find local authorities are not taking your complaint seriously, there are steps you can take.

If they will allow it, you may be able to help with the investigation. This may include documenting the evidence by taking photos, having a necropsy performed if a cat has been killed, having a veterinarian provide medical information if a cat has been injured, interviewing neighbors, and so on. Find more information on what to do if cats you care for have been harmed or killed.

If law enforcement continues to be unhelpful, you can consider reaching out to national humane groups and ask to speak with one of their investigators to see if they can assist you, or try contacting a private investigator and ask them to investigate the matter.

More information: