A Polish scientific institute considers the domestic cat to be an “invasive alien species”, highlighting in particular the danger it represents for birds and other animals.
Some cat lovers reacted with passion to the decision announced earlier this month, cornering the scientist who took it to the wall.
Wojciech Solarz, a biologist from the Polish Academy of Sciences, did not anticipate such a negative reaction from the public when he added Felis catusthe scientific name for the domestic cat, to a database maintained by the Academy’s Nature Conservation Institute.
The database already has 1,786 other species, without anyone objecting, Solarz told The Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday. Invasive alien species number 1787, however, is such a beloved creature that it is sometimes memorialized in Polish cat and dog cemeteries.
Mr Solarz recalled that the scientific community increasingly believes that cats have a detrimental impact on biodiversity, given the number of birds and mammals they hunt and kill.
The cat 100% meets the criteria for an invasive alien species, he added.
During an appearance on independent broadcaster TVN, the biologist last week clashed with a veterinarian who questioned his conclusions about the threat cats pose to wildlife.
Dorota Suminska, who wrote the book The Happy Catpointed to other factors to explain the decline in biodiversity, such as environmental pollution and the facade of urban buildings that can kill birds in flight.
“Ask if the human is on the non-invasive alien species list,” said Suminska, who believes cats are unfairly and excessively blamed.
Solarz told the AP that some media gave the impression that the institute was calling for all cats to be euthanized.
Earlier this month, his institute posted an online message about this “controversy”, in part to clarify his position. The institute said it opposes “all cruelty to animals”. He also argued that his decision corresponds to the guidelines of the European Union.
Regarding the designation of “exotic”, the institute recalled that Felis catus was probably domesticated around 10,000 years ago, in the cradle of the great civilizations of the ancient Middle East, which makes it an exotic species in Europe from a strictly scientific point of view.
The institute recommends that all cat owners limit the time their pet spends outdoors during bird breeding season.
“I have a dog, but I have nothing against cats,” assured Mr. Solarz.