Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey made national headlines last year after posting a picture to Facebook showing her holding up a cat shot through the head with an arrow. In the post, she bragged of the incident being her first bow kill and wrote, “The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s head. Vet of the year award…gladly accepted.”
Last week Lindsey’s case went before the Texas State Office of Administrative hearings. The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is seeking to revoke Lindsey’s license to practice veterinary medicine, arguing in part that the cat in question was an owned cat named Tiger and not a feral tomcat, and that no matter the cat’s identity, Lindsey violated her professional oath by killing the cat in a cruel and inhumane manner.
Lindsey and her attorney argued that she was justified in killing the cat, that the arrow to the head of the cat resulted in instantaneous and painless death, and that killing what she believed to be a feral cat was in line with her oath because feral cats pose risks to the public and other animals. Lindsey and another witness who testified on her behalf, livestock owner Preston Northrup, also made statements to the effect that killing feral cats is widespread and common in rural areas of Texas.
This case is disturbing for the manner in which the cat was killed and because the killer was a vet, a person who we assume has compassion and empathy for all animals and not only the companions who live in our homes. But we believe there is a broader issue at work here, and that is the mindset toward feral cats that Lindsey and Northrup described, which devalues feral cats simply because of who they are and where they live. They believe that every feral cat is dangerous, sickly, and unwanted. It is this immoral culture of killing that must be changed.
As advocates for all cats, it is our role and responsibility to educate and provide resources to the public, the veterinary field, and policy makers, so they may come to understand that feral cats are the same species as our beloved companion cats, just living in a different environment and with a different view of humans. We must show people who feral cats truly are: intelligent, dynamic, and beautiful animals, so similar to our beloved companions and just as deserving of our respect and compassion. We must also continue to push for humane and effective management policies, like Trap-Neuter-Return, while showing trap-and-kill or shoot-to-kill methods for what they are; cruel and ineffective. Finally, we must never stop talking about our moral obligation to treat all animal lives, including all nine of every feral cat, as inherently valuable and deserving of compassion.
We’re confident that the system in place will work and that Kristen Lindsey’s vet license will be revoked. In the meantime we’ll keep putting our comprehensive Guide to Managing Community Cats in the hands of as many mayors, councils, animal control officers, and compassionate citizens as we can. We’ll continue to grow our Alliance for Cat Protection program, which educates shelters and rescues across the country through hands-on workshops and training. And we’ll continue working hard to reduce the number of free-roaming cats outdoors through our monthly Cheap Fix Cat Clinic, which provides low-cost spay/neuter services for companion and feral cats, and the annual May Spay Challenge that gets new vets around the country involved with helping community cats every year.
Our work for feral cats would not be possible without your support! Please make a tax-deductible contribution today so we may continue to provide these life-saving programs.