August 13, 2022

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The Polish Institute classifies cats as an invasive alien species

The Polish Institute classifies cats as an invasive alien species

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – A prestigious Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an “invasive alien species,” citing the damage they cause to birds and other wildlife.

Some cat lovers reacted emotionally to this month’s decision and put the main scientist behind it on the defensive.

Wojciech Solarz, a biologist at the state-run Polish Academy of Sciences, wasn’t prepared for the public’s dismissive response when he entered “Felis catus,” the scientific name for the common house cat, into a national database run by the Academy’s Institute of Nature Conservation.

Solars told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the database already includes 1,786 other species listed without objection. He said the uproar about invasive alien species No. 1787, may have been caused by some media reports that had created a false impression that his institute was advocating the euthanasia of feral cats and others.

Solars described the growing scientific consensus that domestic cats have a detrimental effect on biodiversity due to the number of birds and mammals they hunt and kill.

He said the criteria for listing the cat among the invasive alien species was “100% met by the cat”.

In a television segment aired by independent TVN, a biologist last week confronted a veterinarian who challenged Solares’ conclusion about the dangers cats pose to wildlife.

Dorota Sominska, author of the book “The Happy Cat,” points to other reasons for diminishing biodiversity, including polluted environments and urban building facades that can kill birds in flight.

“Ask if humans are on the list of non-invasive alien species,” Sominska said, arguing that cats have been unfairly blamed.

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Solars responded, arguing that cats kill about 140 million birds in Poland each year.

Earlier this month, the Institute of the Polish Academy published a post on its website referring to the “controversy” and seeking to clarify its position. The institute stressed that it “opposes any cruelty towards animals.” It also argued that its classification is in line with European Union guidelines.

Regarding the classification of cats as “exotic,” the institute noted that “Felis catus” was domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the cradle of the great civilizations of the ancient Middle East, making the species alien to Europe from a purely scientific point of view. Opinion.

The institute also stressed that all it recommends is that cat owners limit the time their pets spend outdoors during the breeding season.

“I have a dog, but I don’t have anything against cats,” Solarz said.