A respected Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an “aggressive exotic species”, citing the harm they cause to birds and other wildlife.
Some cat lovers have reacted emotionally to this month’s decision and put the lead scientist behind it on the defensive.
Wojciech Solerz, a biologist at the state-run Polish Academy of Sciences, was unprepared for the disapproved public backlash when he entered the scientific name of “Felis catus,” the common house cat, into a national database run by the Academy’s institute. Nature Conservation.
Solarz told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the database already had 1,786 other species listed without objection. He said the uproar over the number of invasive alien species at 1,787 may have resulted from some media reports, which led to the misconception that his institution was calling for euthanizing feral and other cats.
Solerz described the growing scientific consensus that domestic cats have a detrimental effect on biodiversity, as they see and kill numbers of birds and mammals.
The criteria for cat inclusion in exotic invasive species, “are 100% met by the cat,” he said.
In a television segment broadcast by independent broadcaster TVN, biologists last week faced off against a veterinarian who challenged Solerz’s conclusions about the dangers of cats to wildlife.
Dorota Suminska, author of the book “The Happy Cat,” points to other reasons for shrinking biodiversity, including polluted environments and urban building facades that can kill birds in flight.
“Ask if humans are on the list of non-aggressive alien species,” Suminska said, arguing that cats were unfairly heavily blamed.
Solarz pushed back, arguing that cats kill about 140 million birds each year in Poland. By comparison, domestic cats kill 4 billion birds each year in the US, according to the University of Texas Biodiversity Center.
Earlier this month, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a post on its website, citing the “controversy” and seeking to clarify its position.
The institute stressed that it is “against any cruelty to animals.” It also argued that its classification was in line with EU guidelines.
It also said that the legal provisions “do not apply to the domestic cat, including the eradication, isolation and control of the population.”
As far as classifying cats as “exotic”, the institute noted that “Felis catus” was probably domesticated around 10,000 years ago in the cradle of the great civilizations of the ancient Middle East, making the species was made foreign to Europe from a strictly scientific point of view. sight.
The institute also emphasized that it was recommending only for cat owners to limit the time their pets spend outside during the bird breeding season.
“I have a dog, but I have nothing against cats,” Solarz said.