MoonCats, the long-dormant tokenized collectibles platform that was rediscovered earlier this month, now has a problem on its hands: trading bots.

MoonCats collectibles depict 8-bit cats that live on the moon and can be traded or "adopted" by users. The project was launched on Aug. 9, 2017 by developer Ponderware, with a hard limit of 25,500 MoonCats set to be created through a process similar to Ethereum mining.

MoonCats was rediscovered earlier this month amid the booming growth of the nonfungible token, or NFT, industry. When collectors recently became aware of the project, it was reported that MoonCats NFTs were going for between $50 and $200. However, prices have since increased rapidly, with MoonCats now trading for one Ether (ETH) on average.

The most sought-after breed of tokenized space cats is “Genesis MoonCats” — tokens that were among the first 256 mined on the platform. A Genesis MoonCat sold for 100 ETH, worth roughly $180,000, earlier this month.

However, the MoonCats community is now fearing the upcoming release of the final 160 Genesis cats may be hijacked by trading bots, with users complaining that MoonCats has become overrun by bots programmed to accumulate new cats the moment they can be purchased.

With the final 160 Genesis cats currently awaiting release and the MoonCats community fearing they may be all bought by bots, Ponderware is looking to the MoonCats community to decide how to proceed next.

Last Wednesday, the developer launched a smart-contract poll for MoonCats users asking: "Should the MoonCatRescue developers destroy their private key so that no future Genesis MoonCats can ever be released?”

A “yes” outcome will prevent Genesis MoonCats from being released in the future, as the private key to the wallet holding the cats will be deleted. A “no” outcome will see the private key preserved and further discussions between Ponderware and the MoonCats community to establish a "fair" method for distributing the final Genesis cats. The developer stated:

"A fair distribution of those cats may prove technically, socially, and/or economically impossible. We will work with the community to meet the challenge, but it is likely to be a complex and drawn-out issue."

As of this writing, the poll shows that 72% of respondents are in favor of destroying the private key, while 28% are opposed.

Bots have been causing problems across the NFT space for many months. On Feb. 26, NBA Top Shot was forced to delay the launch of its Premium Pack due to high levels of botting activity on the platform. Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs — the company behind NBA Top Shot — addressed the delay, noting the firm is not interested in quick sellouts generated by trading bots.

In March 2020, the Ethereum-based collectible game Axie Infinity sought to discipline botting activity by issuing 30-day bans for any accounts associated with the use of bots.