Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers has launched a call for evidence on cat microchipping as part of plans that could help reunite lost cats with their owners, tackle pet theft and identify cats injured or killed on roads.
The government is seeking to find out what the effect of mandatory cat microchipping would be on owners, rescue and rehoming centres and cats themselves.
The call for evidence will run for 12 weeks.
She said the announcement ‘builds on a series of positive actions we have taken to improve welfare standards in this country, including a ban on the third-party sale of puppies and kittens and a commitment to increase maximum sentencing for animal cruelty from six months to five years’.
Microchipping is a legal requirement for dogs, but is not currently required for cats unless they are travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme. Statistics show that 92% of dogs are now microchipped.
Cats Protection’s chief executive, James Yeates, said: “Cats Protection, the UK’s leading cat welfare charity, welcomes this call for evidence on cat microchipping. Microchipping is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, yet each year we still take in thousands of cats which have not been microchipped. The majority of strays we take in are unchipped and so we are usually unable to trace an owner and the cats have to be rehomed.
“Microchipping is a safe and permanent way to give a lost cat the best chance of being returned to their home. People tell us how knowing their cat is microchipped gives them reassurance, and it also ensures owners can be informed in the sad event of their cat being injured or killed on the road.”