The microchipping of pet cats is now compulsory, following new legislation laid down in Parliament today (March 13).
The new rules mean cats must be implanted with a microchip before they reach the age of 20 weeks and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database. All owners must have their cat microchipped by 10 June, 2024, and owners found not to have microchipped their cat by that time will have 21 days to have one implanted, or may face a fine of up to £500.
The new microchipping rules follow a Government call for evidence and consultation on the issue, in which 99% of respondents expressed support for the measure. There are over nine million pet cats in England, with as many as 2.3 million unchipped, according to estimates.
The process of microchipping involves the insertion of a chip, generally around the size of a grain of rice, under the skin of a pet. The microchip has a unique serial number that the keeper needs to register on a database. When an animal is found, the microchip can be read with a scanner and the registered keeper identified on a database so the pet can quickly be reunited with them.
Owners with cats that are already microchipped should ensure their details are up to date. It will not be compulsory for free living cats that live with little or no human interaction or dependency, such as farm, feral or community cats.
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “Cats and kittens are treasured members of the family, and it can be devasting for owners when they are lost or stolen.
“Legislating for compulsory microchipping of cats will give comfort to families by increasing the likelihood that lost or stray pets can be reunited with their owners.”
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss added: “I am pleased that we are progressing with our requirement for all cats to be microchipped.
“Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost pets. As we’ve seen with dog microchipping, those who are microchipped are more than twice as likely to be reunited with their owner.
“By getting their cat microchipped, owners can increase the likelihood that they will be reunited with their beloved pet in the event of it going missing.”
Madison Rogers, Cats Protection’s head of advocacy, campaigns & government relations, welcomed the measure.
She said: “Cats Protection is delighted that pet cats in England will be given the same protection as dogs when it comes to microchipping. The charity regularly reunites owners with their much-loved cats, and in most cases this is only possible thanks to microchips. No matter how far from home they are found, or how long they have been missing, if a cat has a microchip there is a good chance that a lost cat will be swiftly returned home.”