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Hey, Ryan Edwards: Hunting stray cats won't fix your problem

Julie Sprankles is a freelance writer living in the storied city of Charleston, SC. When she isn't slinging sass for SheKnows, she enjoys watching campy SyFy creature features (Pirahnaconda, anyone?), trolling the internet for dance work...

Maci Bookout's ex has a lot to learn about controlling the stray cat population

If you're familiar with the Teen Mom franchise, you know the name Ryan Edwards is synonymous with trouble. The ex of fan favorite Maci Bookout, Edwards has developed a less-than-desirable reputation for treating Bookout with disrespect and appearing to neglect his responsibilities as their child's father. But the fact that Edwards is now proudly proclaiming to hunt feral cats on his property goes beyond typical bad boy behavior — it's straight-up disturbing.

And lest anyone think this news has somehow been manufactured by the media, it merits mentioning that Edwards made the proclamation himself via Instagram. "Used to be the cat hang out but I been putting them down with the ol' air rifle #quick@quiet and #deadcats," he posted to the now private Instagram account.

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When fans understandably proceeded to freak out, Edwards went on the defensive, claiming, "When they start living under your house and having 100 babies that scratch your car and boat and p!ss on everything and get into your garbage let me know. Lol and you can go to jail for vandalizing people's property and trespassing so I guess I'll call the cops next time lol like you ppl are stupid."

He also soon after posted a now infamous photo that made the rounds on social media earlier this year of Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey displaying a feral cat she reportedly shot with a bow and arrow. Although Edwards removed the post, the implication is clear: He doesn't see anything wrong with his (or her) actions. Rather, he has a puzzling hubris over the entire situation.

It goes without saying that showing casual disregard for animals is troubling in and of itself. Taking so much pleasure in killing animals seems emblematic of deep psychological issues. I've watched the episodes of Law & Order, y'all — the sociopaths are always the ones who play executioner with cute and cuddly creatures. (Yes, it's a fictional TV show, but still... you get the gist.)

While I can't effectively speculate about Edwards' mental health, there are a few important points to be made regarding his inhumane treatment of the cats "hanging out" at his house.

Are feral cats and stray cats the same thing?

We all know that pet, feral and stray cats are the same, right? Not exactly. There are distinctions between these groups, the least well know being between the latter two. Stray cats, like pet cats, are socialized — they respond to attention or affection from humans. This means that stray cats were likely pet cats at some point or another.

Alternately, feral cats are not socialized creatures outside of the bond they have with each other. Many are born into their colony and never forge a relationship with any human.

More: Do cats actually like affection? To find out, we asked a vet

This note needs to be made because Edwards is obviously shooting cats indiscriminately. To be clear, he shouldn't be shooting any cats. Period. Him doing so is especially heartbreaking knowing that if there are stray cats in the group, they could be captured and re-homed by a rescue group. Edwards refers to the cats as feral, but it's not clear whether they actually are feral or just neighborhood strays.

So, what could he do instead?

Even if all of the cats inhabiting the area beneath his home are feral (which seems unlikely, given their close proximity to humans), Edwards could easily reach out to local rescue groups who specialize in capturing feral cats and would neuter the males. Feral cats can't be re-homed because they have no social skills, but neutering them helps curb excessive populations. Depending on the group and the area the feral cats are located, it's also possible the entire colony could be captured and relocated to a more remote area after being neutered. If the cats were strays, they could easily be captured and re-homed to a loving family.

Even if Edwards shot every single cat on his property, it wouldn't solve his problem. There is clearly something attracting the cats to his home, whether it be openings in the foundation allowing them access or an available food source. He needs to address the root of the problem or it seems like a safe bet that he'll be facing the same problem in a few short months.

Could Edwards be facing legal repercussions?

Since there is no specific law in Tennessee condoning the extermination of feral cats as a viable form of population control, Edwards may also be playing with fire where the law is concerned. While some of his defenders cited the fact it isn't against the law to shoot nuisance animals on your property in Tennessee, this wouldn't be an open and shut case.

More: The best way to spoil your kitties — keep them healthy

Since every state in the United States and the District of Columbia does have a law prohibiting cruelty to animals, Edwards could be held accountable on that charge for shooting and killing the cats on his property. After all, wouldn't the argument have to be made that he has no idea whether all of the cats he is killing are indeed feral?

Here's the other, other, other thing I want to talk about: his son, Bentley.

As the mother of two small children, I'm all too aware of how closely the children follow my every move. They soak up everything I do like little sponges. Often, bad behavior is learned behavior, and it breaks my heart to think that Bentley's impressionable young mind might interpret his dad picking off cats on the family property as OK behavior. At the very least, such knowledge would be traumatic for a child, no?

What do you think? Should Edwards be allowed to shoot the cats on his property?

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