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Are Cats An Invasive Species?

Poland has recently listed cats as an invasive alien species. Why? Here we tell you.

cats

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LatinAmerican Post | Brandon Martínez Salazar

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Leer en español: ¿Los gatos son una especie invasora?

Cats were domesticated ten thousand years ago, during the civilizations of the Near East, from Egypt to Mesopotamia. Their main function for humans was to keep them in the fields to hunt the pests of mice that damaged the crops. Later, these animals spread throughout Europe and the world to this day and they are very popular pets. However, Poland has listed them as an invasive alien species.

Apparently, the European country analyzed the behavior of cats with their environment. For that reason, they decided to include them in the list of invasive alien species. It is news that will surely surprise many due to its social dimension. However, at the same time, it is interesting to know why this decision is being made. 

It is not the first time that cats are within a policy like this, three years ago in Australia measures were also taken with similar cases that will be exposed in this article.

What is happening to cats in Poland?

Some might consider it unjustified persecution by the Polish government, but it really isn't. According to the Polish Academy of Sciences, it was explained in a statement that: “Since there is unequivocal scientific evidence of the negative impact of the domestic cat on native biodiversity, they should be classified in our country as an invasive alien species. This ruling is in line with the opinion expressed by the European Commission's Invasive Alien Species Team”.

In his note, they emphasize that the way cats have been considered in the European Union has not been correct and therefore, they listed felines as an invasive alien species. Likewise, scientists from the Academy clarify that this is because they hunt millions of small mammals and birds, damaging the Polish natural environment.

To confirm the above, a study carried out in 2019 by the Warsaw University of Biological Sciences concluded that domestic cats effectively kill 583 million small mammals and 135 million birds annually on Polish territory. 

Extreme measures in Australia

Although Poland has listed felines as an invasive species, it does not consider them to be a direct danger to biodiversity. Therefore, no permission, restriction, or deletion laws will apply. Simply, it is suggestive for owners to pay attention to the behavior of their pets.

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In Australia, however, the story was different. It turns out that in 2019 the authorities of the oceanic country argued that cats were a pseudo-wild species that endangered the natural environment. According to experts from that country, the cats had killed 11 species of reptiles and 22 local mammals. Therefore, they began massive persecution of wild and stray cats, which included their total elimination.

What should owners do?

Cats by natural instinct are hunters and although they are currently considered domestic animals, the truth is that they still retain that original wild character. For this reason, what the Polish Academy of Sciences recommends (and which should apply to everyone) is that owners should be aware of the behavior of their pets, above all, not letting them leave the house, especially in seasons when birds reproduce.