Microchipping cats is set to become compulsory – here’s what you need to know

At Closer Pets, we were delighted to watch the recent Queen’s Speech, which promised “the highest standards of animal welfare” – including the compulsory microchipping of pet cats, and a host of positive steps towards animal welfare in the UK.

According to the BBC, the new microchipping policy will be monitored by vets and enforced in the same way as it is for dogs (which has been law since 2016). Dog owners can be fined £500 under the existing law, so we expect similar penalties for cat owners.

 

This is brilliant news, as it will help protect owners from the devastation of losing their cat. According to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, in 2020, just 43% of cats that came to the home were microchipped, and only 19% of stray microchipped cats had accurate owner's details. What’s more, Cats Protection estimates that there are a whopping 2.6 million unchipped pet cats in the UK. There’s also sadly been a surge in stolen pets over the last year, and so the government (and the Closer Pets team) hope that compulsory microchipping will help reunite more lost pets and owners.

The new proposed rules on microchipping come as part of a wide-ranging new animal welfare plan. The plan will formally recognise the sentience of many animals – enshrining in law that they can feel hunger and pain, and are aware of what is happening to them. As animal lovers, here at Closer Pets, we’re pleased to see this important step forward for animal rights in the UK – although we know that our beloved four-legged friends are much more than ‘sentient beings’…they’re family!

 

But back to the cat microchips – and if you’re unsure about what they are and why they’re so important, read on…

Things you need to know about microchips

What?

A microchip is a small computer chip, about the size of a grain of rice, which contains a unique code that can be scanned to reveal the owner's contact information. It’s inserted under the pet's skin (usually between their shoulder blades) and enables their family to be traced if the pet is missing or stolen and subsequently found/resold. The procedure is usually painless, and costs between £10 and £20 – a small fee for peace of mind, right?

 

When?

A kitten can be microchipped once he or she is five weeks old, and should be done before you let them outside. But your responsibility doesn’t end there. If you move home or change your contact details, it’s important to let the microchip company know – otherwise the microchip is effectively useless. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said that failing to update microchip details is a key reason why pets cannot be reunited with their owner.

Why?

And, perhaps most importantly: the ‘why’. A microchip is the best chance of reuniting a lost cat with its owners. You might think: “Well, my cat never goes beyond my garden” or “My cat is a house cat”, but we all know that our feline friends have the potential to make a crafty escape bid – especially if there’s something to chase outside!

Although having a collar is also helpful, cats’ tendency to roam and squeeze through tight spaces means it can easily fall off. So, an up-to-date microchip is a more permanent safeguard. It’s also worth mentioning that certain pet insurers will state microchipping as a requirement.

 

When scrolling the news or social media, you’ll probably spot feel-good stories about long-lost pets being reunited with their owners after months, even years – and it’s usually down to the microchip. Closer Pets team member, Justine, has a story of her own – here, she tells us why she’s eternally thankful for microchipping her beloved cat, Tatty Flapjack:

 

“Tatty Flapjack snuck into a van one morning and ended up seven miles away from home. She was missing for three weeks, which was a very distressing time for me. Luckily, the person who found her took her to their local vet to be checked over – thanks to her microchip, my contact details showed on the database, and I had a surprise phone call one day to say she’d been found! We were soon reunited, and even though she’d lost a lot of fur through stress, she was really happy to be home again. I’m so glad I’d had her microchipped, otherwise I don’t think she’d be here with me today.”

 

What’s more – having a microchip could give you more flexibility in how you care for your cats on a daily basis. At Closer Pets, we have a range of Microchip Cat Flaps, which give them independence to let themselves in and out – ideal if you’re out and about yourself.

Kitties like to think they rule the roost, and these smart pet doors will allow them to explore the great outdoors when they wish, and then return to their favourite cosy spot by the fireplace – using the microchip to grant them entry or exit.

They’re easy to programme, and you can opt to keep certain moggies indoors if you need to. Our Elite Microchip Cat Flap with Timer Control – White even lets you know who’s in and who’s out, and the time since the flap was last used. What’s more our Microchip Cat Flap – White (also available in Brown) caters for up to 30 cats – perfect for multi-cat households.

 

To summarise, then, plans to make the microchipping of pet cats compulsory is brilliant news, as not only does it provide secure, reliable and permanent identification, but it also gives extra reassurance to loving cat owners. So, if your beloved feline doesn’t have one already, make sure to get booked in for a microchip with your vet to help ensure you can always be reunited.

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