Three weeks after a new “trap, neuter, return” city ordinance took effect on Jan. 1 in response to an out-of-control feral cat population in Fort Worth, local animal advocates and city officials were chasing down a rumor with intent to kill: the story of yet another “cat killer” in Trinity Park.

The TNR ordinance was welcomed by area animal advocates and rescue groups, whose members have long cared for the wild cats that make up a colony of survivor felines in Fort Worth’s large urban park bracketed by University Drive and the Trinity River. But in a meeting to discuss the concept last February, as Fort Worth Weekly reported, a few people advocated shooting or otherwise eliminating the cats, to the consternation of most of the crowd. Around that time, approximately 20 cats disappeared from Trinity Park  seemingly overnight, and animal rights groups were furious.

“We still don’t know whether the original culprits used guns or poisons or something else,” said Ro Williams, founder of, an online cat rescue and adoption website. The missing cats were part of the regular group fed by volunteers and park neighbors, she said.


The latest rumor swirls around a lone cat killer, dubbed “the woodsman,” who was allegedly hunting and killing cats in the park at night. The story led to discussions about a web blogger using the same name and posting photographs of  apparently lifeless cats.

“That guy’s website has been taken down,” said Williams, one of a dozen vocal animal rights advocates who attended the original meeting and one who believes the rash of killings was a response to it. “This sounds like a case of a fertile imagination and the rehash of an old story.”

Williams is pretty sure that if there had been another spate of cat killings in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park, she would have heard about it. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” she said, “but there’s nothing on my radar.”

The keeper of the original reward fund for information leading to the arrest of the “cat killer” a year ago, Williams said she personally hired a private investigator to look into the case. “He never found a thing,” Williams said. She maintains the balance of the donations, in case funds are needed in the future. “We have used a little of that money to buy food for the cats still in the park, but most of it will remain available,” she said.

The Fort Worth Police Department and the city’s Animal Care and Control Division say there is no evidence to support the rumor.

Fort Worth Police Cpl. Tracey Knight said, “We had a Rottweiler shot in the head on Jan. 16, but in terms of animals, that’s been the only incident. If we had dead cats in Trinity Park, I’d be getting calls left and right.”

Knight said that, in additon to ordinances concerning animal treatment, there are laws against firing guns within the city limits, and, “Trinity Park is a gun-free zone, just like schools are.”

The Rottweiler, named “Sandy” by city animal control officers, survived, Knight said, and is being cared for by Katy’s Promise Rottweiler Rescue of Austin. Katy’s Promise spokesperson Kapi Neely said that the dog is doing well, after extensive surgery, and has her own Facebook page, called “Sandy the Shotgunned Rottweiler.”

The TNR ordinance allows professionals and volunteers alike to proceed with humane trapping, getting the cats vaccinated and neutered, and returning the feral animals to the wild. In addition to promoting humane treatment, the city expects the TNR program to reduce public safety hazards and nuisances and to cut down on the number of feral cats euthanized by the city.

“We’re excited about the new ordinance,” Williams said. “There’s a lot more interest and support for low-cost solutions for people in Fort Worth.” She said the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection and the Humane Society of North Texas are making more services available. “It amazes me that the public doesn’t search for alternatives to dumping their animals or something worse. There are options.”

Williams said she hopes the TNR ordinance will help end a long cycle of constant reproduction among the Trinity Park feral cat population. “It’s a proven method in other parts of the country, and it’s humane,” she said.

Early drafts of the Fort Worth TNR plan included a complicated hierarchy for volunteer accountability, Williams said. Feral cat colonies required sponsors, sponsors had to get permits, and caretakers had to work through sponsors.

“The approved ordinance is streamlined,” she said. “There is accountability without so much bureaucracy.” Copies of the three-page TNR ordinance are available on the city’s website.

The TNR process is expected to reduce the number of new cats born into an exisiting feral colony and eventually reduce the population. The cats remain in existing colonies, away from neighborhoods and streets. Volunteers often remove kittens as soon as they are weaned and work to place them into adoptive homes. The practice is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States.

“Everybody wants the same thing,” Williams said. “The volunteers who take care of these cats go out to feed them, sometimes every day. They are devoted to a humane and realistic solution.”


  1. “As creatures swim and crawl, our kingdoms rise and fall. We show our worth as kings of earth by how we treat them all.” -From “Leviathan” by Schooner Fare

    THANK YOU! to every person involved in this project.

  2. I remember seeing a bunch of cats heading up Bailey Ave. from West Seventh St about that time, and I asked where they were going, and they said something about a “Wildcat Scott” who was going to help them. They were going to meet him on the smoker’s patio behind the FW Weekly, and he was going to feed them and let them chill until everything died down. Then he was going to get them up to an auto salvage yard near Ardmore. I just wonder who this “Wildact Scott” guy is.

  3. Feral cat colony activists are nothing but pitiful animal hoarders in full view of the public and now with government blessings. Nice shot of healthy appealing kitten with this story.
    Is there nothing more cruel then these abandoned domestic pets left in the elements. Legs and faces swollen with festering wounds they inflict on each other. Limping and with tattered ears and battered noses. Unchecked infectious disease. The runny eyes, poor coats. Fed on cheap ground corn meal. The ground littered with empty plastic margarine tubs and makeshift shelters. Short life expectancies but constant numbers due to even more dumping.
    Found on private property, these cruelties and their keepers would be prosecuted and we would be outraged.
    Far as the much publicized “cat killer-reward offered-private investigator” — just a tactic often used by the hoarders to gain public sympathy.

    • What a sorry misinformed individual you are. The colonies you are describing are the ones that have no caretakers. Why don’t you do some research on what you are talking about before you post. You are a very insulting individual.

      At least the VOLUNTEERS, NOT HOARDERS, have more compassion for these cats than you do. At least they give a damn.

    • “Far as the much publicized “cat killer-reward offered-private investigator” — just a tactic often used by the hoarders to gain public sympathy.”

      Oh, really? Perhaps you have some information as to what happened to the Trinity River colony then because I work a few blocks from there and used to see all the cats every single day as well as the caretakers. Now I see not one single cat. They HAVE disappeared and that is no joke or made up story.

      “Short life expectancies but constant numbers due to even more dumping.”

      That would not be the fault of the caretakers but the fault of irresponsible owners. The caretakers or “hoarders” as you call them are actually taking care of the pets OTHERS dumped.

  4. Feral cats are a menace, even when vaccinated and neutered.

    It’s misplaced ‘kindness” to return them to the wild. They are devastating to birds, reptiles, and small mammals because they hunt. Because they carry diseases, their feces (by becoming runoff during rain or by becoming dust and blowing about) are potentially dangerous to riparian animals, zoo animals, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

    (Note: pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems should avoid contact even with the kitty litter of household pets.)

    I love cats, but feral cats are vermin.