No, you cannot shoot or poison my cat!

I should have known better. Cat lovers can be brutal. When my friend Paul Jacques, as a Maine legislator, proposed that cats be licensed like dogs, he got clobbered. Yesterday, when I reported that Australia has established a goal of shooting or poisoning 2 million feral cats, I got clobbered.

“George Smith – it would appear from your article that there are not enough wild animals to satisfy your desire to kill that you want to start in on cats. You sound like a scrum bag to me,” wrote one reader.

My reputation as a Maine sportsmen came under attack by several readers. “I’d sooner spay or eliminate the two legged hunters to be honest. It is not a cat fault it has to hunt… it’s all on humans.  We are putting the blame on the wrong species,” wrote one reader.

For the record, I was simply reporting the Australian story, which actually appeared in the Bangor Daily News, and also raising a question as to whether Maine should continue to allow cats to be released into the wild. I’d read a story in my local newspaper about a shelter that captures feral cats, cleans them up, and then releases them back into the woods.

Some readers apparently thought I was about to set out into the woods of Mount Vernon to shoot and poison feral cats. No, I am not proposing anything of the sort.

coon catAnd for full disclosure here, Linda and I have had one or two cats for decades. Our current Cat, Wyatt, is a 10-year-old coon cat. Adorable, except for the massive amount of cat hair in the house. I can always tell cat lovers at the legislature – we are covered in cat hair!


Alarming Responses

Here are some of the more alarming and/or interesting responses (in Italics) to the cat column.

I live on one of the small islands off the coast of Maine and I think that the writer of this article is missing the point. Let’s think about this for a minute……. Where do the feral cats come from?? They are not a native species in the woods of Maine.  Well Dear Mr. Smith, I can enlighten you a bit. Some summer residents here get cute little kittens and when they are ready to leave for the winter, simply leave them behind. PERIOD! So it is my opinion that until we control the ‘Summer people” invasion in Maine during the summer months, we will always have a feral cat problem. I say let’s treat the root of the problem. If you want to start poisoning, baiting or shooting something, our island is invested with summer folk to the point that the natives are concerned about the island sinking due to the fact we have surpassed our maximum weight limit on the island.

Oh, those darned summer people. And – gasp – some of them now stay here all year round.

Why does it matter what is native and what isn’t? An animal is an animal. Why is it OK to keep non-native animals away but OK for non-native humans to move into Maine in droves?

Ignorant animal lovers and uncaring veterinarians also came in for criticism from readers of the column.

Just read your article in the BDN and was appalled that you would think it acceptable to simply kill beautiful animals just because you view them to be “killing machines”.  Why not put the blame where it belongs…on the IGNORANCE of animal owners who refuse to get their pets spayed and neutered and who think nothing of letting them roam free! 

I once asked an animal control officer why we have laws requiring people to get their animals immunized and licensed, but not requiring them to spay or neuter. His response was that we DO have laws regarding spaying and neutering but towns don’t enforce them!   Plenty of blame to go around here at people who are supposed to have the brains to prevent the overpopulation and cruelty of having to dispatch these helpless creatures.  I also once asked a veterinarian why he didn’t offer to do spaying and neutering as a public service.  His reply…”I’m not a public servant.”  This callous, indifferent response from a supposed “professional”!

Cats also got a lot of credit for being killing machines.

When we moved to our property there were a lot of moles, voles, mice, and chipmunks which did a lot of damage in our garden and orchard. The owls, hawks, etc. did not get rid of them, but our two cats did. No longer do voles damage carrots and potatoes or trees in the orchard. I recommend cats to anyone who has a
vermin problem. I wonder if, perhaps, cats are getting far more blame for the killing of birds than weasels, skunks, raccoons, hawks, owls, cowbirds, humans, and deer, etc.

That reader could have mentioned largemouth bass. In Florida I once saw a bass fly out of the water to pick a songbird off a water lily.

The news in this next message was interesting.

There are TNR rescue groups throughout our State that trap neuter/spay and return feral cats to their colony.  We return them to a colony where there is a caretaker that provides them with food and water.  If they can’t go back we rehome them. For more information contact the Cat Coalition of Western Maine, we are on FB.  These cats didn’t ask to be born and live in the wild.  It happens because of irresponsible pet owners.  If you know of a colony in the woods contact a local TNR group, they will trap/spay/neuter and either rehome or find a caretaker.

And finally, from a friend, came this warning and advice.

Gary Larson, “Far Side” cartoonist, was reviled by cat lovers for his classic ‘Tether cat’ cartoon. I think you are messing with fire.

And now, I am going to take that advice. No more cat columns!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.