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Finland planning national cat register

The size of Finland's cat population is unknown, according to authorities.

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Finland first introduced a registry for dogs. Now one is in the work for cats. File photo. Image: Pasi Takkunen / Yle
Yle News

Some 20,000 stray cats roam Finland. This is one reason the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is preparing regulations for a cat registry, expected to come into effect at the beginning of 2026. The registry aims to improve the traceability of cat owners.

In practice, owners will need to identify and register their cats during 2026. The registry will be similar to the dog registry introduced this month—cats will be microchipped and their information recorded in a national cat database.

Anssi Welling of the ministry told Yle that the idea behind the registry is to promote responsible cat ownership, increase respect for cats while preventing semi-feral cat populations from emerging.

Cats are abandoned more frequently than dogs, according to Welling, who said that registers aim to prevent puppy and kitten mills as well as diseases such as rabies.

Finland's cat crisis

Animal Welfare Finland (SEY) said it estimates that Finland is home to some 20,000 stray cats.

"Around 10,000 cats end up in animal shelters, and another 10,000 live in populations that arise when unneutered cats roam outdoors," said Kati White, executive director at SEY.

Another reason for the cat registry is that no one knows how many cats there are in Finland.

"Official estimates put the figure around 600,000, but the Finnish cat association, Kissaliitto, believes the number to be much higher, even exceeding one million. These discrepancies highlight the need for a cat registry. We don't really know how many cats there are," explained Welling.

The Finnish Food Authority will oversee the cat registry. Owners failing to register their felines could face penalties, such as fines once new rules come into force in 2026.

These days many European countries demand that owners register their cats.

"It's a growing trend. There is a desire to improve the traceability of all animals," Welling said, adding that it was important for pet buyers to make informed decisions, which means avoiding animals that lack records.

White meanwhile pointed out that owners don't have to wait for the law to compel them to register their kitties.

"It makes sense to microchip cats and add them to the Finnish cat association's register even before it's a legal requirement," she said. "Microchipping provides added security for your cat."

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