Best Friends Blog

Orlando Sentinel publishes instructions on how to kill a cat

Wanna know how to mercilessly kill a cat? Don’t worry about having to search the weirdo part of the Internet. The weirdos are now writing opinion pieces for the Orlando Sentinel!

This week, the Florida newspaper published an op-ed from Ted Williams, who was editor-at-large for Audubon Magazine when the article went live but has since seemingly been demoted to “independent journalist” (according to a newly revised byline). In the piece, Williams references the terribly flawed Smithsonian study we’ve already discussed at length. He argues that trap/neuter/return (TNR) is a religion, that it’s cruel to cats and dangerous to the public, and that there’s just no talking to us pro-TNR crazies. But all that balderdash is just the same old drumbeat we’ve heard for ages now. Nothing new, and nothing factual.

But, wait … here’s something new. Apparently Mr. Williams knows the perfect way to deal with this scourge on society, and he’s not too shy to say it.

What’s that, Ted? We should just kill them? How do we do that?

“There are two effective, humane alternatives to the cat hell of TNR. One is [XXXXXXX*] (the human pain medication) — a completely selective feral-cat poison. But the TNR lobby has blocked its registration for this use. The other is trap and euthanize.”

That’s right … Ted Williams of the National Audubon Society lets you in on a nifty method for killing cats! In a major American city newspaper, he told you how to commit a felony. I only hope you’re as shocked and outraged as we are.

Poisoning animals is expressly prohibited in many states, and in most states intentionally killing a domestic animal is a felony.

Now, if you follow the op-ed link above, you’ll notice the paragraph we quote is missing. Since the article went live on the Orlando Sentinel’s website, the offending paragraph has been deleted. But don’t worry, courtesy of Peter J. Wolf of the blog Vox Felina, we have a copy of the original op-ed (click here to download the .pdf). Clearly someone at either the newspaper or the Audubon Society realized just how extreme Ted’s views are.

The Audubon Society may decide to claim that this is a case of a lone wolf, a man whose views don’t represent the whole. They may claim that he wasn’t telling you to actually kill cats. But c’mon, that’s like showing someone how to make a bomb, but then saying, “Promise you won’t actually bomb anyone, OK?” It’s what I would call a “wink, wink.” You know, when someone says for you not do something but then winks at you.

There has to be common ground in this conversation. That’s how solutions are found to problems. While we believe in the efficacy of TNR programs, if they’ve got something better, we’re all ears. Truth is, vaccinated and sterilized cats are the best humane option we have. Extremists like Ted Williams who think the mass slaughter of feral cats by a pain pill–wielding populace is the right solution should kindly keep their manifestos to themselves; that type of incendiary ranting has no place in civilized discourse.

We believe Mr. Williams doesn’t deserve to be paid by the National Audubon Society, either. Please, click the button below to send a letter to the National Audubon Society calling on them to further demote Mr. Williams, ideally to part-time custodial arts engineer.

We’re also curious, Audubon, where do you stand on the issue of feral cats? What a perfect time for you to endorse the practice of TNR.

click to take action

By the way, we asked the Orlando Sentinel to print a rebuttal op-ed, and they declined our request.

Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society


*Note: We’ve edited out the name of the medication in our post and in the screen grab of the original article. We’re not in the business of telling people how to kill cats.

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  • caretakercat

    You are correct that the ideal would be to take these cats in after trapping and sterilization and keep them inside or enclosed in a cat fenced in yard. I have done it. But the reality is that there are too many that need to be taken in. You don’t support turning cat saviours, individuals and shelters alike, into cat hoarders, do you? These cats are not to blame for their situation, irresponsible people, high cost of veterinary care, lack of free sterilization, lack of groups that will help feeders trap and sterilze the cats. So until everyone starts working together in the right direction, I can not justify killing a healthy animals which could, with the help of kind humans, live peacefully outdoors. People who care about birds and cats should start contacting their local officals and demanding, like was done in Miami, Florida,

    a pet trust tax to fund programs such as free sterilization, low cost veterinary care, pet food banks, education programs and pet related neighbor dispute mediators which will get to the root of this problem and solve it humanely. But to suggest killing cats because they might kill a bird to survive is totally inhumane and inappropriate in our so called “civilized” and “modern” society.

    • Anonymous

      Kill 1 cat, save 100 animals. Math doesn’t lie.

      • caretakercat

        Beejaym, are you a vegan? If not, how many animals do you consume a day not only in food but in other products? So do you deserve to loose your life? And you have a choice not to eat animals, cats don’t. Why aren’t you attacking trophy hunters and fishers? And other animals that kill other animals, including birds that prey on other birds?

        • Anonymous

          In fact, yes I am. And I’m not going to attack predators that are native to the ecosystems they live and have evolved and adapted to survive. Feral cats are not native, have not evolved with the environments and have no place living in these areas.

          And yes, I do attack hunters and fishers for their superfluous activities.

          • caretakercat

            Man has interfered with nature to such an extent that in a
            people populated environment there is no pristine environment to play out the circle of life you think is so ideal. These cats are not living in some imagined wild, they are living in urban areas created by humans, not nature. Those paving over a turtle habitat to build your house or apartment complex might say turtles have no place living in these areas either. Cats, like all
            other wild creatures, have been screwed with by man, first being domesticated and then dumped back into now what is the modern wild. So why are you complaining that they have reverted to their natural hunter state to survive?
            They have adapted to their environment. As have the birds who hang around shopping center parking lots waiting for humans to drop their garbage on the
            ground since those non native people parking in the parking lot paved over where their natural dinners used to hang out. So unless you are living in the
            jungle, with clothing made by you, catching your dinner with your bare hands, you are in no place to advocate killing cats, unless they are out there in the true “wild” with you, trying to steal the bird you both want for dinner. And the winner gets to keep the environment. The Audubon Society website says there is nothing wrong
            with people feeding birds. Wouldn’t this be interfering with nature? Shouldn’t they just die off when food is scarce because your house sits where they used to feed? And what happens when we get too many birds because there are no cats or other predators (assuming cats are to blame for many bird deaths), Many of those cats you call
            feral are just scared and mistreated former pets of man. Man caused this problem and now man is responsible for humanely solving it. Man can’t just kill his way out of every environmental problem he causes.

          • Anonymous

            Man is already “killing” its way out of the problem, but promoting “humane”, TNR programs. The entire point, since square-one has been – HUNDREDS OF ANIMALS ARE DYING because feral cats are allowed to just roam the streets after they get trapped and neutered.

            Anyone… ANYONE calling themselves an “animal lover” willingly ignores this and turns a blind eye to it. They wake up to a mutilated bird on their doorstep and the most they think/do is wish the cat wouldn’t do that. What if they woke up to a mutilated cat instead? Police are called, news papers run articles emails get sent out, Facebook gets flooded, etc.

            Animal Welfare groups like Best Friends and most animal “lovers” are nothing but hypocrites. They use the term “love” the same as people use it to describe something they like, “I love food” “I love this dress” “I love animals”. Love is nothing, however, without respect. Most of these people/organizations lack the respect needed to truly “love” an animal, As much as I abhor it, hunters actually have a better foundation built to “love” animals upon than most of these feral cat colony caregivers do since most have a profound respect for their targets.

            The true animal lovers are the ones protecting the species everyone else thinks are unworthy.

          • caretakercat

            My last comment to you is that you, to put it mildly, have a bias toward an animal called a cat. Because if you know birds, you know the hunter birds hunt other birds and leave a circle of feathers on the ground. . This is not the work of a cat. My neighbor feeds the birds via a bird feeder. It’s actually a hawk feeder because that where the hawks wait to attack the poor native birds feeding at the feeder. So I have woken up to the horror of many piles of feathers and there were no paws involved, just the hawk finishing off its kill. IYour time would be better spent advocating regulation of animal breeders,and for free sterilization for cats and educating pet owners to be responsible. If you think cats are the only ones who kill you are no nature observer. Snakes and otters and other animals out there are killing birds. do you want to kill off everything but the birds that are vegan birds?

  • Anonymous

    Animal lovers should be ashamed of the typical TNR program.

    Trap – Good! Keep them out of harm’s way, away from traffic and away from potential abuse while also protecting the native prey species from the cats.

    Neuter – Another good one! Keep them from creating more of the excess population.

    Return – What?! After you go through the effort of the above steps, who in their right mind would return these animals to their non-native habitats and negate all the good that has been done up to this point?

    TNR is a lazy policy; it’s one where people wipe their hands of any responsibility after taking the easy steps. The last, most difficult step no one wants to commit to is the most obvious one – rehabilitation (note, that it also starts with an “R”).

    Wildlife can learn to coexist with humans and these are animals that have been born, bred and raised as wild for thousands of generations. Domestic cats are just that, domesticated – their genes have been altered to create a pet. Although they might seem and act wild, they are still far from it.

    Just because they may never be comfortable being a “lap kitty” doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put the effort in and respect their personalities. Let them stalk the crickets in our houses at night, let them eye us with a mix of caution and contempt from across the room. Not every cat needs to be one that will cuddle up with you on a couch.

    Statistically speaking, from an ecological standpoint, as much as we would like to believe TNR, as a humane option, reduces feral populations, it can’t be proven. Whether they’re neutered or euthanized, the cat still has no way to reproduce. Either method removes them from the gene pool. Any study done will always be skewed since it can never take in to account external factors such as the abundance of food, reliable shelter or the danger levels of traffic. The only thing that can be proven as fact, is that a non-living animal is as likely to reproduce as a neutered one.

    • Ikwig

      Um, just for the record, you do realize that in many cases (perhaps even most), the “R” part of TNR involves returning the neutered, vaccinated animals to managed colonies with human caretakers who feed the cats and keep a close eye on them to insure that they receive medical attention when necessary. How is that “lazy?” How are the caretakers “wip(ing) their hands of any responsibility” when they are out there every day working with those cats?

      When my husband and I managed a feral cat colony, we spent a minimum of 3 hours a day outside feeding the cats, cleaning and maintain their shelters, and working on socializing those who were ready and willing to interact with humans. That doesn’t include the time spent trapping (both for neutering and for keeping them up to date on shots) or the time where emergencies cropped up and one of us had to take time off from work. Although our colony is now closed down – the remaining cats are in their teens and have had medical problems which have necessitated bringing the last of them inside – other caretakers with whom I correspond are similarly diligent. In general, a person who cares enough to trap and neuter the cat is also one who cares enough to continue to care for that cat to the best of their ability, but very few, if any, people can safely, healthfully, and economically support having 30 or more cats in their house. For most of us, keeping them as safe and healthy in an outdoor environment as possible is the best we can do. Isn’t that still better than nothing, because at least the cats get the chance to live the life they were given?

      You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but I can’t help but think that you might want to spend some time actually working with a TNR program before you start throwing out hurtful words like “lazy.”

      Also, while I can hardly claim that our situation is a scientific statistic, I will say that in the eight years since the last cat was brought in, no new cats have shown up in our area (although we do still keep a trap, just in case); in our neighborhood, TNR has definitely reduced the feral population.

      • Anonymous

        So you basically admit their efforts are a pointless waste of time. “Managing” a colony of cats is still not SOCIALIZING a colony of cats to live indoors with humans. A “managed” feral cat is still free to wreak havoc on the environment for as long as they are still outside. This only protects the cats, extending their lifespan to guarantee they’ll have plenty more years of destruction to create.

        There are two scientific and mathematical facts feral cat rescuers still fail to realize – a dead cat can breed no more than a neutered cat and the loss of 1 life, can save hundreds more. This isn’t theory, this isn’t personal experience, this is pure fact.

        Prove to me that TNR programs not only reduce feral populations more so than euthanasia programs but also do so without causing additional harm to wildlife and I’ll gladly change my tune.

        • Ikwig

          Ah, I knew I should have known better than to feed the troll.
          Did you not actually read anything I wrote about all of the hours my husband and I put in to SOCIALIZING those cats? What about the part where ALL of the remaining cats are now in indoor homes? And how about that part where “TNR has definitely reduced the feral population” in our neighborhood? You obviously aren’t interested in reading anything I had to say, so I guess I’ll just quit writing.
          You are giving a bad name to vegans, though – all of the vegans I know are vegan because they care about the quality of life for ALL animals, not just their favorites . . .

        • Tennisvet

          There are many, many references out there on how TNR programs help reduce feral populations more than euthanasia. Put “tnr programs vs. euthanasia” in the search box and you will have all the proof you need. With all due respect, and I’m not necessarily saying any is due, you have no idea what you are talking about.
          You are welcome to drop by my shelter any day, and I’ll be glad to give you a couple of feral cats to “rehabilitate” within your home. If you think they are destructive to wildlife and the environment simply because they are outdoors in it, just you wait. If your house doesn’t look like a cyclone hit it within 24 hours, I’ll eat crow. Not only your house but likely your face too. While it’s true that young feral kittens can be socialized to be adopted, it is absolutely NOT true of their feral mommies. These cats are W-I-L-D and you can spend the rest of your days trying to pet these beasts into submission and all you’re going to get out of it are a couple of stumps for hands.
          The reason that they are returned is because the area from which they were taken is their “home”. Maybe not according to you, but definitely according to them. Efforts have been made to relocate them, only to find that many of them end up back in the original location or die trying to get there.
          TNR was not the first idea that popped into people’s heads. Many different methods have been tried, including your euthanasia plan, with no success.
          My suggestion is to visit your local shelter where a TNR program is being used, and participate in it for a day or two. See all aspects of it — go out to a feral colony and meet the caretakers, spend a day in the clinic helping with spay/neuter, ear tipping, and vaccination, and observe these cats’ behavior while you’re at it. The ones that are deemed friendly ARE pulled out and placed for adoption — after all, some of these cats are outdoor cats that belong to someone or did at one time. But the others? They are as little harm to wildlife as a spider is to the bug population. And remember, this is nature we are talking about. We are living in nature, not the other way around.
          Educate yourself. Please.


    OMG so disgusting. It is clear that not ONE person at this paper participates in responsible journalism. So if the writer eats meat I guess its ok to just poison him?? get rid of him? He might do this little thing called research, altho I see that “journalism” doesn’t include research or facts anymore, it’s all just basically blogging out of their asses about whatever they feel at the moment.

  • caretakercat

    My comment below was cut off. It should have said that it appears there are no fans of cats on the editorial boards of the Ft. Lauderdale Sentinel or the Orlando Sentinel which are part of the same company. Here is a recent editorial comment by one of their staff who opposes a tax on property that would fund programs such as Trap Neuter Return

    “Animal tax barking up wrong tree

    February 10, 2013|Gary Stein, Columnist

    Don’t you people ever accuse me of hating puppies. I love puppies. That’s just the kind of compassionate guy I am.

    Cats I have no use for.”

    • Kerin

      He doesn’t have any use for pitbulls either.

  • caretakercat

    “Animal tax barking up wrong tree

    February 10, 2013|Gary Stein, Columnist

    Don’t you people ever accuse me of hating puppies. I love puppies. That’s just the kind of compassionate guy I am.

    Cats I have no use for….”

  • Harlowe Thrombey

    What the hell is TNR?

    • Forest Family

      TNR stands for Trap, Neuter, Release. Rescue groups trap feral cars, neuter/spay them, clip the tip of the ear so that other rescuers know they’ve been foxed an them release them back out to their colony family. This allows feral cats, who are basically wild, to live out their lives with their family without overpopulating an area.

      • Harlowe Thrombey

        Thanks Forest Family.

    • Trap/Neuter/Return. It’s explained in the article, but if you read the way I do sometimes (occasionally skipping a line) you might have missed that part.

      • Harlowe Thrombey

        Thanks Jennifer.

  • caretaker cat

    I called the Orlando Sentinel the day I got the email from Alley Cat Allies. I told them this was a totally irreponsible thing to do because there are no doubt people out there who hate their neighbors cats and will try this and that it is not only cruel but will endanger other animals and children who might take the bait. She wasn’t aware it was in there about xxx but looked right away and said she was transferring me to the managing editor who was responsbile. So this woman answers who I found out as just his assistant and first she didn’t even know it was in there about xxx and continued to insist there was nothing about xxx until I had to read it to her. She still didn’t seem to get it saying well how will this endanger children? so i had to explain it to her. Then she says well mr managing editor is on vacation. So at that point I said, he sure picked a good time to leave town after dropping that article on the public and I said, look, you don’t see the urgency in remedying this, it seems there is no ethics in your journalism and I said your paper better do something about this or you will be responsible for what happens and I hung up. So maybe that helped? I’m glad they took that out but they owe the sane world an explanation and they should denouce that man and his article and punish whoever let that into their paper. Now hopefully only the cat advocates will know that xxx can do that. so I’m glad it was nipped in the bud but it is not over. I’m glad you outted the Orlando Sentinel. And not to mention what they did to xxx brand name who I hope does not approve of their product for that.

  • They show their true colors and their biased agenda by keeping people like Ted Williams on. Hey Ted, let me bring you your morning coffee sometime, I promise I won’t put anything “extra” in it.. hehe…

  • Can the ASPCA take action against this clown for inciting animal cruelty/killing?

  • I don’t like birds. I’m not afraid. I just don’t like them. That being said I would NEVER kill one! I’ve taken injured ones to the vet. Just because you perceive something doesn’t make it true. I think birds do tons of damage to my house and my health. I have disease caused from bird feces and my go blind but I still won’t kill one.

  • Wish this article posted the contact information for the Orlando Sentinel…Can anyone here post it ???? Thanx

  • Alan Cartlidge

    Message sent and posted on FB.

  • Rebecca

    Just wanted to post the symptoms of acetaminophen toxicity in cats… Vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy, difficult/rapid breathing, abdominal pain, brown discoloration of the gums, brown grin, cyanosis, swelling, and finally, shock – collapse – and death. Yeah, that certainly sounds humane to me. [sarcasm]

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be tweeting this on twitter every day. 🙂 this week. Thank you for letting everyone know about this. I’m still enraged about the Smithsonian “research”.

  • Maureen P

    The advertisers of the Sentinel should be encouraged to pull their ads unless an op ed rebuttal is printed. Nothing hurts a newspaper more than losing advertising revenue. The Audubon Society should also fire Mr. Williams for making these outrageous suggestions.

  • Bonnie

    Then may I recommend that those that have subscriptions to the “Slantinel” (our nick name for that paper) cancel unless a rebuttal-retraction is issued!!

    Also you will be interested in what the Audobons reception is on the Outer Banks of NC- unfortunately you have to expand all the comments to find exceptionally well placed comments on their killing of wildlife and family pets.

  • loverofcats

    Message sent. Contact McNeil Consumer, makers of Tylenol, and let them know that their product is being advertised for this use too!

  • Message sent. This is outrageous and upsetting.

  • Message sent. This is outrageous and upsetting.