Audubon Comments on Bird and Cat Safety

The National Audubon Society is unequivocal on the important issue of cat and bird safety: We reject the idea of people taking matters into their own hands in ways that can harm neighbors' pets - or any cats.

Audubon strongly believes that cats belong indoors. That's safer for them and for the birds. Feral and free-roaming cats are subject to injury, disease, and predation. We urge communities around the country to adopt effective measures to counter problems suffered and caused by cats and to vigorously enforce existing rules and procedures.

Ted Williams is a freelance writer who published a personal opinion piece in the Orlando Sentinel. In the course of the original piece, which has since been edited by the Orlando Sentinel, Mr. Williams described using over-the-counter drugs to poison cats. And because of Mr. Williams' stated affiliation with Audubon in that original piece, some readers assumed that Audubon was endorsing this approach. We do not. We regret any misimpression that Mr. Williams was speaking for us in any way: He wasn't. Audubon magazine today suspended his work and will remove him as "Editor at Large" from the masthead pending further review. [Update (3/26/13): Mr. Williams has apologized, and Audubon has reached a decision.]

Mr. Williams is not an Audubon employee. He is a freelance writer and a conservationist who has written for Audubon for 33 years. He writes for numerous publications. 

We fully understand the gravity of the issue of the threats cats present to birds. Cats - particularly feral cats - are a leading cause of bird deaths. National Audubon Society has long supported a "Cats Indoors" campaign urging pet owners to keep their cats indoors for the safety of both their pets and birds. Audubon has guidelines on how to keep both birds and cats safe at www.audubon.org. We've had this guidance on our web site for years and we think it's good, common sense.

A recent report by Smithsonian scientists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that cats kill an estimated 2.4 billion birds each year, underscoring the need for effective solutions to protect wild birds and cats alike.

But backyard poisoning isn't the answer and we want  to make it absolutely clear we don't support that idea.

More information about Audubon's work to create healthy habitat for birds and pets is at http://web4.audubon.org/bird/at_home/safecats.html.