Authorities in the southwest German town of Walldorf have ordered some cat owners to keep their pets indoors until the end of August, to protect a rare bird during its breeding season.
The decree is designed to help save the crested lark, which makes its nest on the ground and is therefore easy prey for feline hunters.
The bird population in Western Europe has declined sharply in recent decades.
Authorities in Walldorf wrote that “among other things, the survival of the species depends on every single chick”.
A songbird, the crested lark is found across Europe, including in Britain. Numbers have been declining across the continent in recent years.
Some 15,000 people live in Walldorf, some 14 kilometres (eight miles) south west of the city of Heidelberg.
The decree, which applies to all cats in the southern part of the town and will be repeated for the coming three years, has reportedly distressed pet owners.
Regional daily Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung reported Wednesday that the head of the local animal protection association plans to take legal steps to challenge the decree.
“Please remain calm,” it quoted him as saying. “I can assure you we’ll do our best to stop this disproportionate measure.”