"It's a crazy situation"

Starting next year all new-born cats will have to have a computer chip embedded in their body. The system already exists for all dogs, but the Flemish Animal Welfare Minister Ben Weyts is expanding the system to cover cats too.

The chip will contain personal date including the animal's name, age and the address of its owner.

"It's a crazy situation" Mr Weyts told the VRT. "At present new cats are registered but no information is stored in a central data bank."

The Animal Welfare Minister is keen to launch the new data bank as early as next year. Chips for cats will be introduced gradually. All new-born cats will have to have a chip embedded in their body. The system is supposed to reduce the number of stray cats, but has other advantages too. Ben Weyts: "We can also make sure that cats that get lost are reunited with their owners."

Flemish animal sanctuaries have welcomed the news.