The Polish Institute of Nature Conversation has added domestic cats to its database of "invasive alien species," causing a firestorm as cat lovers in the nation push back on the decision.
Cats—technically, felis catus—were added to the list earlier this month, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. According to a blog posted by the institute due to the "controversy" over the decision, cats have a negative effect on local wildlife (birds, for example) and are technically not native to Poland.
"The domestic cat, felis catus, was domesticated probably around 10,000 years ago in the cradle of the great civilizations of the ancient Near East, stretching from the Nile Valley to southern Mesopotamia," the blog states. “Therefore, from a purely scientific perspective, in Europe, and therefore also in Poland, it should be considered an alien species."
That domestic cats wreak havoc on the wildlife in their local stomping grounds isn't a major revelation by any means, but the Polish public still balked at the inclusion of cats in the list of roughly 1,800 other invasive animals. In a televised segment where a veterinarian debated a biologist at the institute over the decision, the vet said, “Ask if man is on the list of non-invasive alien species,” the AP reported.
According to the institute's blog addressing the controversy, the domestic cat may be an alien invasive species, but it doesn't pose a threat to Poland, so there's no need to worry about troubling consequences of the decision. "Therefore, the provisions of the Act regarding the need to apply for a permit or conduct remedial measures, including the elimination, isolation and control of the population, do not apply to the domestic cat," the blog states.
Although the decision in Poland is upsetting to cat lovers, it's in line with how many conservationists see cats: Functioning as an invasive species, killing swaths of wildlife, and generally acting like psychopaths (who we love).