The Associated Press reported that Poland’s respected scientific research institute has classified cats as invasive alien species, citing the harm cats cause to birds and other wild animals, but the conclusion immediately caused a fierce backlash from cat lovers.
When Wojciech Solarz, a biologist at the state-run Polish Academy of Sciences, recently entered the cat’s scientific name, Felis catus, into the national database run by the institute, he didn’t realize there would be such a violent backlash.
Wojciech Solarz said it’s okay to have 1,786 invasive alien species established in the database, but the establishment of the 1,787th alien species has caused controversy. Wojciech Solarz suspects that the call for euthanasia of wild cats may have caused a negative public image.
Wojciech Solarz said that there is a growing biological consensus that domestic cats are harmful to biodiversity, because they hunt many birds and small mammals. From this perspective, the criteria for including cats as invasive alien species are 100% valid.
But independent broadcaster TVN TV show Wojciech Solarz confronted a veterinarian who questioned the conclusion that cats were a danger to wildlife.
Dorota Suminska, author of the famous Polish book “Happy Cats,” points out that many factors contribute to the shrinking of biodiversity, including environmental pollution and urban buildings that kill flying birds.
Dorota Suminska stressed whether Wojciech Solarz should also list humans as invasive alien species, because cats should not be unfairly labeled with this big hat. But Wojciech Solarz turns to evidence that cats kill about 140 million birds in Poland each year.
The institute emphasizes that they only recommend that cat owners limit the time their pets are outdoors for too long during the bird breeding season. “I have a dog, but I don’t have a problem with cats,” says Wojciech Solarz.