Animal cruelty is defined as a deliberate action that causes pain and suffering to an animal. In Brazil, legislation known as the Environmental Crimes Law states that cruelty toward all animal species is criminal in nature. From 644 domestic cats necropsied between January 1998 and December 2009, 191 (29.66%) presented lesions highly suggestive of animal cruelty. The main necroscopic finding was exogenous carbamate poisoning (75.39%) followed by blunt-force trauma (21.99%). Cats from 7 months to 2 years of age were the most affected (50.79%). In Brazil, violence is a public health problem and there is a high prevalence of domestic violence. Therefore, even if laws provide for animal welfare and protection, animals are common targets for violent acts. Within a context of social violence, cruelty toward animals is an important parameter to be considered, and the non-accidental lesions that were found are evidence of malicious actions.