Published: 11:59, 06 December 2021
| Updated: 12:40, 06 December 2021
The government is to press ahead with plans to make microchipping for cats compulsory - with £500 fines for owners who don't comply.
Under the new rules households must ensure their pet is microchipped before they reach 20 weeks of age and that contact details are stored correctly and kept up to date in nationwide pet microchipping databases.
Ministers first unveiled proposals back in May to apply more stringent rules to owning a feline - to bring cat owners in line with the microchipping laws which apply to those who have a dog.
There are over 10.8 million pet cats in the UK - but almost three million of these are thought to currently be unchipped.
With eight out of 10 cats that come into Cats Protection centres not microchipped - the government believes more lost or stray animals could be more easily reunited with owners and returned home safely if owners could be properly traced through a microchip.
Owners who are found to not have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted or face a fine of up to £500. The simple procedure involves inserting a small chip with a unique serial number under a cat’s skin and this number can be read by a scanner and checked against a microchip database.
A government consultation carried out since the summer - to explore support for the plans - suggests that more than 98% of people are in favour of compulsory microchipping.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: "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.
The government is also currently carrying out a review of the regulations for dog microchipping and the related microchipping database systems to consider whether improvements can be made - the new cat microchipping rules will be implemented once this review is complete to ensure any changes to microchipping operations are brought in at the same time for all owners.
Cats Protection’s head of advocacy and government relations Jacqui Cuff said there are many benefits to being able to more easily trace owners.
She said: "As the UK’s leading cat charity, we have been at the forefront of the campaign for compulsory microchipping of pet cats. 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."