The US-based nonprofit believes labeling cats "invasive" and "alien" will increase persecution of outdoor cats in Europe and around the world. Alley Cat Rescue says large scale effects of cat predation on natural wildlife is sensationalized to deflect from manmade environmental destruction and advocates for decreasing cat populations humanely through trap-neuter-return.
MOUNT RAINIER, Md., Aug. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The government-funded Polish Academy of Sciences has classified domestic cats (Felis catus) as an "invasive alien species." This designation is given to species that are not native to a region's ecosystem, and cause damage to that ecosystem. The institute has said that the label is purely scientific and not a call to action against cats. They say that the number of birds and other small native animals cats kill per year qualifies them to be on the listed this way in their national database.
Alley Cat Rescue (ACR) criticized the Academy's decision in a blog post on their website:
"Given the deadly persecution that cats face in places such as Australia and, sadly, Alaska and Hawaii in the name of environmental protection, attaching such stigmatic terminology to cats in Europe could give rise to culls there as well.
Beyond the Academy's moral responsibility to avoid putting cats' lives in danger, the classification is based on shaky science. There simply is not sufficient information available to determine if cat predation has any detrimental effects on the overall populations of prey animals, including birds; yet environmental and bird groups, like the American Bird Conservancy, continue to push for the eradication of feral cats, claiming cats are in fact contributing to the decline of bird species and other wildlife. The few studies that have been conducted on cat predation are from remote islands with closed ecosystems, where local bird populations have not evolved with predators. Because cat predation on continents is very different from island environments, it is inaccurate and inappropriate to extrapolate data from these particular studies to predict predation on continents."
ACR also argues that, like any predator, cats tend to feed on the young or old and those who are sick or in a weakened state because they are the easiest to catch, citing the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which states, "It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. Every year, many millions of birds die naturally due to starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. And most of the millions of baby birds hatched each year will die before they reach breeding age," (RSPB, 2014).
In the blog article, Alley Cat Rescue offers the opinion that cats are easy scapegoats for governments and institutions so they can avoid addressing much larger environmental hazards. ACR points to the European Environment Agency (EEA)'s webpage that claims agriculture is the primary danger to nature in Europe. The site also names habitat loss and damage, unsustainable forestry, hunting, and overfishing as greater threats to wildlife than "alien invasive species."
Alley Cat Rescue concludes that it is unwise for a reputable institution to officially label cats as a danger to the natural environment in Europe as it accomplishes nothing has but to spark or fuel animosity toward cats. They stress that instead of blaming cats, the best thing communities around the world can do is practice trap-neuter-return (TNR) to end outdoor cat overpopulation. Thousands of nonprofit groups Alley Cat Rescue have TNR programs that benefit wildlife without harming cats.
Debbie Holzer, Alley Cat Rescue, Inc., 8189274130, [email protected]
SOURCE Alley Cat Rescue, Inc.