The topic of cruelty features regularly in discussions concerning animals’ moral status. Further, condemnation of cruelty to animals is virtually unanimous. As Regan points out, ‘[i]t would be difficult to find anyone who is in favour of cruelty.’ What is to count as cruelty is therefore important. My aim here is to gain a clearer understanding of one aspect of our moral landscape: cruelty to animals. I will start by analyzing the concept of cruelty in section II. In section III I will examine some implications of this analysis. I will present two arguments for why we should reassess whether modern farming practices are cruel. First, farming practices have changed and our understanding of the concept of cruelty needs to change with them. Second, our application of the concept of cruelty is inconsistent: we would consider many routine
practices involving farm animals to be cruel if they involved pets. This inconsistency presents
a dilemma: either extending farming practices to pets would not be cruel, or continuing our
current farming practices is cruel. In section IV I consider some objections.