Critical Animal Studies (CAS) is the academic field of study dedicated to the abolition of animal and ecological exploitation, oppression, and domination. Like Human-Animal studies more generally, CAS is a field of inquiry that seeks to explore the plethora of ways that humans interact and form relationships with animals. However, as opposed to more general sets of inquiry, Critical Animal Studies distinguishes itself through an endeavour to critically engage with the various processes and structures, which facilitate and underpin animal subjection in its various levels and forms.
While CAS's focus is very much on the topic of the animal specifically, the way in which it integrates a pursuit to uncover the ways in which power manifests and frames our relations, into scholarly inquiry, could be considered akin to what distinguishes the approaches taken by other 'critical fields' such as gender or post-colonial studies, to name a few. This means that one key aspect of CAS is a holistic understanding of the commonality of oppressions, such that speciesism, sexism, racism, ableism, statism, classism, militarism and other hierarchical ideologies and institutions are viewed as part of a larger interlocking global system of domination.
Critical Animal Studies also actively seeks to link theory to practice, analysis to politics and the academy to the community.