Cats to be put on leashes to protect wildlife? EU says No

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 file photo, two cats sit at the top of the stairway in the middle of a small fisherman's landing in Valletta, Malta. The EU on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, said it guarantees the right of domestic cats to roam free, even if they can be a threat to birds.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Put domestic cats on a leash to better protect threatened birds and the environment? The European Union says that would deny mankind’s furry friend its unalienable right to roam.

The EU’s executive said Thursday that it is “a strong defender of free movement rights — including of cats” and “categorically” denied it would ever force cats to be kept indoors or on a leash, as one scientific study suggests.

Tilburg University scientists wrote in Oxford’s Journal of Environmental Law that free-ranging domestic cats “impact biodiversity through predation, disturbance, competition, disease and hybridization,” and added that the predatory impact is worse than often assumed.

They argued that EU laws and directives could effectively force owners to keep them indoors or on a leash outdoors.

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