Currently, cat owners in France are not legally obligated to have their pet identified, in contrast to dog owners, who must ensure that their animal is registered and identified by microchip or tattoo.
Now, agriculture minister Didier Guillaume has said that he would like to see mandatory identification extended to cats too, as a means to reduce the abandonment of pets by their owners.
Microchipping or tattoo identification allows pets to be traced should they become lost, as it allows shelters and veterinary surgeries to scan and identify the owner. They can then alert the owner that their lost pet has been found, or - where necessary - investigate how the pet came to be lost or abandoned.
In an interview on January 28, Mr Guillaume reminded the public that each year in France, 100,000 cats and dogs are abandoned by their owners. Microchipping cats would help reduce this toll, he said.
Mr Guillaume suggested that should the law be introduced, cat owners would be punished by a fine of up to €135 if they did not comply, with possible further sanctions for repeated offences.
He said: “You don’t buy a cat or a dog - a pet - in the same way as you would buy an ice cream.”
The minister also said that eventually, he would like to see sales of cats and dogs restricted to professional breeders, to reduce the incidences of private deals between potentially-unscrupulous sellers and unprepared buyers.
The minister’s comments come months after a shock video from animal welfare group Fondation 30 Millions d'Amis showed that more animals are abandoned every year in France than in any other country in Europe.
In October, Mr Guillaume also said that he would support a law against the abandonment of animals.
In response to a direct question asking “should people who abandon an animal be punished by law?”, he said: “Yes. We don’t get a pet to have fun, and then when we go on holiday, abandon it.”
Yet, Mr Guillaume admitted: “All the people that I meet who love their animals [and] would not abandon them. I don’t want to stigmatise the huge majority of people who have pets who treat them well and love them. I have always had a dog at home, and it has been fine.”
Last week, the Australian Shepherd dog was declared the French public’s favourite breed for the third year in a row, closely followed by the Belgian Shepherd and the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France