Cats. Some people love them, others can’t stand them. And some spend hours watching cute cat videos on YouTube and Instagram. But those big-eyed, round-faced furballs we call domestic cats are actually “invasive alien species” according to Poland.
The Polish Nature Conversation Institute recently added domestic cats to its invasive alien species database. They argue that domestic cats wreak havoc on local biodiversity, primarily causing damage to the bird population and other species.
The scientist behind the categorization, Wojciech Solarz, said in a debate that “cats kill about 140 million birds in Poland every year”, as reported PA.
The decision caused an outcry among cat lovers in the European country, with a veterinarian saying during a televised debate, “Ask if the man is on the list of non-invasive alien species”, according to PA.
This author agrees that before humans point the finger at cats, they should point it at themselves! But back to the subject of domestic cats –
Why are cats called invasive alien species? The institute has published a comprehensive Q&A on the matter because of the controversy. He explained that cats were categorized as “invasive alien species” because the Felis catus (their scientific name) was introduced to Europe through human intervention. And over the years, scientific communities have observed that domestic cats have a “negative influence” on native biodiversity.
What are invasive alien species? According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, invasive alien species are “plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are not native to an ecosystem and that may cause economic or environmental harm or harm human health. human. They have a negative impact on biodiversity, including decline or elimination of native species through competition, predation or transmission of pathogens”.
Animals are often introduced to non-native areas due to unnatural causes involving human activity, whether building dams, bridges, or transporting them directly.
On the other hand, alien species are also brought to a non-native area by human intervention, but they are not invasive and do not negatively impact the fragile biodiversity.
What does this mean for cats in Poland? The uproar has mostly resulted in misguided notions that the categorization calls for the mass culling of felines. This is not the case. The Polish Nature Conversation Institute only recommended that cat owners limit the time allowed for their pet cats to roam freely outdoors.
Please #boycott all who are mean to #cats. We know that now includes #Poland since they called cats an invasive species. Thanks, @feralbecky to alert us to this. We will NOT travel to Poland until this changes. #rescuecats #rescue #cats
– Brenda-HELP #UKRAINE PERSEVERE * Pls RT for #cats (@brendaoncats) July 27, 2022
Poland’s decision is in line with European Union directives on the classification of these animals. Europe prohibits the import, breeding, sale or possession of certain animals recognized as invasive alien species. It also allows the respective governments of European countries to take action to eliminate the species or prevent its expansion. It is not yet clear if Poland plans to take “measures” against domestic cats or if owning a cat will become difficult in the country.
Polish scientists are not the only ones to have classified domestic cats as invasive alien species. Conservationists around the world have observed the negative impact of stray cats on local biodiversity as well as on humans. Researchers say cats are responsible for 61% of rabies cases in pets. Unvaccinated outdoor cats transmit a range of diseases to humans, causing birth defects, behavioral disorders and other consequences in humans.
Often we don’t think much about eliminating other invasive alien species like certain types of rats or cockroaches that are less attractive. But when it comes to cats, the whole world is horrified at the thought of getting rid of them. So, the best thing to do is keep cats as indoor pets and control the stray cat population.