cat, cat face, sleep.jpg
Photograph: Photo by condesign, used under CC0

Cat owners will be forced to microchip their pets after councillors in New Zealand's capital voted for the measure to protect the city's birdlife, local media reported Thursday.

Wellington is to become the first city in the country to make it compulsory for owners to have a microchip the size of a grain of rice injected under their cat's skin, serving as a permanent method of identification.

Local cat organization Feline Rights was against the decision, saying the council was planning to set up "kill zones" for unidentified cats found on reserve land.

“It will be open season on any cats that just happen to wander onto council reserve land,” the organization said.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the organization’s claims were exaggerated and that 83 per cent of cat owners supported the idea of their pets being microchipped.

Wellington is home to the Zealandia animal sanctuary which has some of the country’s rarest native birds.

The birds are vulnerable to attacks from cats whenever they fly outside of the sanctuary's protective fence.

The council earlier rejected plans to introduce a curfew on the city’s 20,000 to 30,000 cats.

If the law is passed, cat owners will have 18 months to microchip their pets.

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