Cats micro-chipping to be made mandatory in the UK under new rules

13 March 2023, 16:14 | Updated: 13 March 2023, 16:24

Therese Coffey (left) and a cat (right)
Therese Coffey (left) and a cat (right) after DEFRA laid plans to make cat microchipping mandatory before Parliament. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Chay Quinn

All cats in the UK will have to be microchipped under new laws laid before Parliament today.

The move will bring the rules for domestic moggies in line with that of dogs and require the feline friends to be chipped before they reach 20 weeks of age.

Rule-changes are intended to reduce the number of stray cats in the UK and make it easier for authorities to reunited them with their owners.

Government figures suggest 2.3 million of the 9 million cats in Britain are not microchipped.

A consultation by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs found that 99% of those asked were in favour of making the chipping mandatory.

Owners who fail to adhered by the new rules before 10 June 2024 will be punished up to a £500 fine by cops.

Therese Coffey seen outside the Cabinet Office in London...
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey welcomed the plans to help reunite cats with owners through microchipping. Picture: Getty

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 said: “I am pleased that we are progressing with our requirement for all cats to be microchipped.

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“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.”

Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy, Campaigns & Government Relations, Madison Rogers, 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.

"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. 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.

"Owners with cats that are already microchipped should ensure their details are up to date. The commitment to microchipping is part of a wider Government effort to build on our existing world-leading standards."