Cat owners must get their pets microchipped or face a huge fine under a new UK law.
The proposals intend to make it easier for lost or stolen cats to be returned to their owners in a shakeup of rules.
What does the law say?
Owners are required to make sure their cat is microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks, under a new law due to come into force in England in 2023.
Contact details for the cats’ owners must also be stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said legislation would be introduced this year and the rules will take effect 12 months later.
The delay in enforcing the rules is due to an ongoing review into the regulations on microchipping of dogs, which is already compulsory, to consider whether improvements can be made.
Any cat owner who is found not to have microchipped their pet will be given 21 days to have one implanted.
If they fail to comply within that period, they could be fined 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 more than 10.8 million pet cats in the UK and as many as 2.8 million are unchipped, with Cats Protection saying as many as eight out of 10 strays it receives at its centres are not microchipped.
This means it would be very difficult to reunite cats with their owner if they get lost or stolen.
The compulsory plans come following a sharp increase in pet thefts this year, as well as rescue centres being overwhelmed by pets that are lost or unwanted.
Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s head of advocacy and government relations, said: “Every day we see how important microchipping is for cats and for the people who love them – whether it’s reuniting a lost cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the sad event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car.
“Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost cats and can help ease the pressure on rescue charities like Cats Protection.
“Without a microchip, a lost cat will most likely end up being rehomed to a new home as there is often no trace of their original owner.”
How much does microchipping cost?
The simple procedure involves inserting a small chip with a unique serial number under a cat’s skin, and this will usually cost owners between £10 and £30.
Once the microchip has been inserted, owners then need to register the number on a database, which may incur an extra charge.
The number can be read by a scanner and checked against a microchip database to help reunite lost pets quicker with their registered keeper, saving heartache and concern.
Vets will provide all of the documents and contact information owners need to register the chip with an agency, including details of any fees required. In some cases, vets may submit this paperwork for you.
The contact information that is registered on a database needs to be kept up to date to ensure cat owners can be traced if their pet goes missing.
As such, you must update your contact details with the registration agency if you move house or change your phone number.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith added: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.
“These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”