Legislation to introduce compulsory cat microchipping was put before Parliament on 13 March, making it easier for lost or stray pet cats to be reunited with their owners and returned home safely.
There are over nine million pet cats in England, with as many as 2.3 million unchipped, meaning that it would be very difficult to reunite them with their owner if they get lost or stolen.
The new microchipping rules follow the government’s call for evidence and consultation on the issue in which 99% of respondents expressed support for the measure.
The introduction of compulsory cat microchipping was a Conservative manifesto commitment and an Action Plan for Animal Welfare pledge.
The new rules mean cats must be implanted with a microchip before they reach the age of 20 weeks and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database.
Owners must have their cat microchipped by 10 June 2024 and owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted, or may face a fine of up to £500.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “I am pleased that we are progressing with our requirement for all cats to be microchipped. “It 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 and 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.”
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.