Epic “No” – Don’t Shoot the Cat

Friends have been asking me pet welfare questions online.  They ask darkly hilarious questions knowing the answer is “no.”  They know me well enough to make me laugh and stop way before they make me cry.


Q:  Can I dip my dog in bleach to treat his fleas?

A:  No.

In July of 2010, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln Extension Office released a seven page paper, in print and online:

Feral Cats and Their Management


Aaron M. Hildreth, Stephen M. Vantassel and Scott E. Hygnstrom

I wish the authors had thought to play the very fun Ask the Vet a Welfare Question Game with me, or any veterinarian for that matter.  I also wish they were trying to be darkly hilarious.  Sadly, they were not.

I have e-mails sent to the three authors of the publication.

Subject:  WITW (That’s how I say THAT) were you thinking?!?

I am hoping they would still like to play “Ask the Vet a Welfare Question” with me.  After they play, research more recent literature, consult the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners), perhaps even their “neighbors” the Nebraska Humane Society, which is doing a stellar job carrying out a successful Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in Omaha and surrounding areas, they could write a new Opposite Report.  I would even be willing to help them write it.

Here are some “Ask The Vet a Welfare Question” questions that I think would be fun.  I also included my answers, because they are not always as obvious to everyone as I had thought!

Q:  As members of a respected university, one that invests heavily in training the veterinarians of the future, should we suggest shooting cats in the head as a potential tool in an integrated pest management program?

A:  No.

Q: Shooting cats in the heart?

A:  No.

Q:  The lungs?

A:  No.

Q:  Padded jaw foothold traps?  Snares?  Body-gripping traps?

A.  No.  No.  No.

Q:  Should we have consulted the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia before publishing this paper?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Should we have glanced at Nebraska euthanasia laws?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Would the American Animal Hospital Association or American Association of Feline Practitioners or Nebraska Humane Society have been good resources?

A:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Q:  Should we have consulted one of the many, many veterinarians, veterinary team members and others with an interest in animal welfare, whose hackles are now up (figuratively speaking) before we made them angry?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Should one of us have walked down the hallway and consulted one of the many fine veterinary professors on East Campus before publishing our report?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Should we have listened to the leadership of Husker Cats, the feline welfare group that cares for feral cats on the UNL campus when they explained their TNR/feline health program directly to us?

A:  Yes.

Q:  What if I was too busy to do all that research, would it have been ok to just ask my veterinarian while I was in with my huntin’ dog what he thought about feral cat control?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Can we have a do-over?

A:  I don’t know.  Maybe.


I hesitated to publish this in the hopes that the UNL extension publication would just pass quietly into the abyss.  It seems as though it will not though, and even if it were about to, I really could not let it just pass without saying something.

To the authors’ credit, they have brought up and given us another opportunity to discuss a very important topic:  feral cat control.  Let me know what you think.  If you promise to be nicer to them than they suggest we be to the cats, I will also help you contact the authors.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Epic “No” – Don’t Shoot the Cat”

  1. LuLuPooPoo says:

    Uh…As a child, parent, auntie, fairy-godmother and retail store manaer who has spent much time witnessing children running rampant with seemingly absolutely no parenting even when adults are presetnt….is it okay to control the feral human population by shooting them in the head?the heart?the lungs?Oh, I’m sorry, is that offensive when I replace the word “cat” with “human”?Life is life, Murder is murder.If you’re not gonna eat it, don’t shoot it…. unless it is a zombie, then technically since they’re already dead its’ not really murder AND you don’t want to get infected by eating a zombie.

  2. Bob Nelson says:

    To paraphrase ….. “the best way for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing!”Thanks for stating the professional, thoughtful approach to a humane issue. I hope your blog is viewed by many times the the number of the those who viewed the original article. Well done!Love, Dad

  3. admin says:

    UPDATE: Professor Hygnstrom was kind enough to talk quite a bit with me about his report. Sadly, he and his co-authors do NOT want to play “Ask the Vet a Welfare Question” nor do they want a do-over.

  4. Karen Jorde says:

    Wow! Thank you for your blog!! I am doing some research to head off and a bad plan (Non-TNR) my HOA has to handle a feral cat “problem” in our townhouse community and I certainly appreciated your counter point to that horrible article. Unfortunately, everything lives forever on the net and apparently it was cited in an article in the Orange County Register by the pet editor (!!) (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/cats-278419-bird-feral.html) and quite obviously she didn’t do much checking or she would have found your blog and never made any kind of correction or follow up. She got laid off this last year–Cat Karma if you ask me!
    I’m going to see if I can’t log in to the paper and put a comment with story saying what a schlock piece of journalism it is. Even at this late date they should print a correction.
    As for the Professor Hygnstrom and his co-authors suggested methods of integrated pest management, even if the creatures–any creatures–are pests, I would suggest that their methods of so-called integrated “pest” management appear to have been inspired by Norman Bates. I wouldn’t put them in charge of managing a “Made in Japan” porcelain Maneki Neko cat!

  5. Thank you Karen! It has been so encouraging to see how Nebraska Humane Society and Spay Omaha Solution and the good cat people and rescue groups in and around Omaha have dealt with our feral cat issues! I do believe TNR is the answer – not the easiest or the fastest, but the most humane, and that is key.

Leave a Reply