Scientists Just Classified Cats as an "Invasive Alien Species." Here's Why.

Cat lovers aren't happy, and the online debate is raging.

In news most dog lovers will consider something in between no surprise and a long-overdue move, a group of Polish scientists has classified domestic cats as an "invasive alien species."

The reason has nothing to do with those mythological rumors about cats being about to steal your breath or those viral TikTok videos of less-than-friendly feline behavior. A researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences said it's because cats have a harmful effect on biodiversity, killing birds (about 140 million in Poland each year) and other wildlife. Biologist Wojciech Solarz said the criteria for including the cat among alien invasive species "are 100% met by the cat."

The recent announcement was met with controversy. The Associated Press reported that earlier this month, the Polish Academy published an online post clarifying its position. The institute said its designation followed European Union guidelines and that it was "opposed to any cruelty towards animals."

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Why cats are consider alien spieces

As far as categorizing cats as "alien," the institute noted that "Felis catus" was domesticated nearly 10,000 years ago in the cradle of the ancient Middle East, technically making the species alien to Europe.

The institute emphasized that it was not calling for cats to be euthanized and that its only recommendation was for cat owners to limit the time their pets spend outdoors during bird breeding season. 

On Polish TV, Solarz debated a veterinarian (and author of The Happy Cat) about the wildlife threat posed by felines. "Ask if man is on the list of non-invasive alien species," the vet argued. Insisted Solarz: "I have a dog, but I don't have anything against cats."

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Not Everyone Agrees

A sample of some of the Twitter and Reddit reaction:

"Cats are an 'alien and invasive species'? Have you met humans yet? Top of the food chain. Invasive AF. Leave the felines alone, dammit," said @JerriAC.

"Domestic cats labelled as an alien invasive species, by an alien invasive species," said @ChaoticWelshie.

"It is undisputed the damage that feral cats do to the ecosystem. Yes, humans are also bad for nature. But just because people are bad does not mean that we shouldn't try to minimize the impact the pets we leave outside do," said Cielmerlon.

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"There's been some criticism of studies showing that cats kill vast numbers of birds. It's almost certain that cats do have an effect on bird populations, but estimates are based on statistical models that may not be representative. It's also often difficult to determine which bird species are being affected by cats," said shinkouhyou

"I, for one, greet our alien overlords and bow to their obvious supremacy, but they ignore me when I do that," said Locuralacura.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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