The Government has announced that microchipping will be made compulsory for owned cats in England from 10 June 2024.
According to the new legislation being introduced to Parliament this week, owners will have to ensure that their cat is microchipped before the age of 20 weeks and that their contact details are kept up to date in the pet microchip database.
Owners of cats who are found not to have a microchip will be given 21 days to get one or face a fine of up to £500. Research by Cats Protection suggests that 2.3 million cats in England are currently not microchipped out of a population of more than nine million.
Microchipping will not be mandatory for cats which have little or no human interaction or dependency, such as community, farm, or feral cats.
Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said: “I am pleased that we are progressing with our requirement for all cats to be microchipped.
“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.”
Dogs have been legally required to be microchipped since April 2016 and since then animal welfare organisations have campaigned for similar rules to be introduced for cats. Both the RSPCA and Cats Protection welcomed the confirmation that microchipping cats would become a legal requirement in England.
Davied Bowles, head of campaigns and public affairs at the RSPCA, said: “Microchipping dogs has been mandatory for many years, so to finally see the same law and protections being applied to cats is a huge step forward for feline welfare.
“We have seen innumerable stories of non-microchipped cats that have been hit by a car or strayed who never get reunited with their owner, as well as the happy stories where cats have been reunited with their owners by our dedicated RSPCA officers thanks to this tiny chip. We are hopeful that now we will see more happy stories than sad ones.”
Madison Rogers, head of advocacy, campaigns and government relations at Cats Protection, said: “After many years of campaigning, Cats Protection is delighted that cats in England will finally be given the same protection as dogs when it comes to microchipping.”
However, she also expressed the charity’s disappointment that the new law would not cover the whole of the UK: “While this is brilliant news for cat welfare, the new law will only apply in England, risking cats in the rest of the UK being left behind. Animal lovers will rightly want to see cats given the same protection in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so we’re urging politicians to work quickly to make sure this happens as soon as possible.”