WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A respected 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 have reacted emotionally to this month's decision and put the key scientist behind it on the defensive.
A biologist at the state-run Polish Academy of Sciences told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he wasn't prepared for the public response when he entered "Felis catus," the scientific name for the common house cat, into a national database.
As to why they categorized cats as "alien," the institute said "Felis catus" was domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East. So when it came to Europe, from a scientific point of view, it was considered a species alien to the country.
The database already had 1,786 other species listed with no objections.
He says some media reports created a false impression that the institute wanted feral and other cats euthanized.
The biologist, Wojciech Solarz, said during a segment on independent broadcaster TVN that each year in Poland, about 140 million birds are killed by cats.
Solarz added that although he has a dog, he has nothing against cats.