Published: 14:49, 11 May 2021
| Updated: 15:28, 11 May 2021
Cat owners will be forced to have their pets microchipped or face a fine under government proposals set out today.
Confirming the policy in today's Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, Her Majesty outlined government intentions to soon make microchipping compulsory.
This morning's speech, covering everything from plans to improve health systems, home ownership, a ban on junk food ads before 9pm and inmigration, sets out the government's parliamentary agenda for the upcoming year.
Within the speech, among a number of proposals connected to the environment and animal welfare, was confirmation that households who own a cat could soon be forced to have their feline chipped and formerly registered.
The news follows an eight-week government consultation, which began on December 23 last year, that sought the views of vets, owners and members of the public about making the microchipping of cats mandatory.
A microchip is a small computer chip, which is around the size of a grain of rice, that contains the pet's details and owner's personal contact information. It is inserted under the animal's skin and enables the pet's family to be traced if the cat is missing and subsequently found or for it to be tracked if it is then stolen and resold.
The cost of the procedure is around £20 to £30.
The announcement that microchipping for cats could become compulsory under new legislation was included alongside government promises to tackle the increasing number of issues surrounding pet thefts, which have skyrocketed in the last year of the pandemic.
On Saturday, the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs announced the formation of a new taskforce that will bring together police, animal welfare experts and government departments to investigate the issue and make recommendations, expected by the autumn, on how best to tackle the growing problem. Measures which were confirmed by The Queen in her words today.
Cats Protection is one of the organisations which has been pressing the government to make compulsory microchipping of cats law.
According to a petition on its website, already signed by almost 43,000 people, it estimates that a quarter of owned cats are not microchipped, a move it describes as a 'safe and permanent way' to help reunite lost cats with their owners.
In one part of Kent earlier this year cat charities were warning about an explosion in the number of feral kittens roaming the streets as vets struggled to catch-up with appointments delayed because of the pandemic.
The compulsory microchipping of dogs is already the law and came into force back in April 2016. Owners who fail to have their pooch chipped face a fine of up to £500, with penalties for cat owners expected to be something similar providing the bill is passed.