Microchipping cats is purely optional right now. Though there are some great benefits, it’s currently not a legal requirement.
That changes in June 2024. From this date, it will be mandatory to have your cat microchipped.
At Closer Pets, we’re all about keeping you close to your pets, so naturally we think it’s a great idea. Sadly, too many cats go wandering off and get lost with no way of getting back home.
As pet owners ourselves, we know just how heartbreaking that can be, which is why we think this change in the law is a good idea.
As microchipping your cat will be compulsory from next year, there’s no better time to learn about how this change affects you and your cat. Here’s all you need to know.
Why should you microchip your cat?
Microchipping your cat gives you the best possible chance of being reunited if they go on an adventure too far from home and get lost on their way.
Of course, a cat’s instinct to roam and explore is one of the things we love best about them. So rather than keeping them indoors or worrying about them every night, why not get your little moggie microchipped?
You might be thinking, isn’t that what a collar is for? Well, many of us already know that a collar is easily lost or damaged, so it isn’t a reliable form of identification. A cat microchip is however.
Rather than being handed over to an animal charity, a microchipped cat can be quickly identified and reunited with you.
With more cats than ever before ending up in animal centres, anything we can do to minimise this and keep the family together must be a good thing!
How does a cat microchip work?
A cat microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice and is injected under the skin at the back of the neck.
The chip contains a unique code that can be read with a special scanner typically used by vets. That code links to a database that has your cat’s name, your name, your address and contact information.
Nothing is stored on the microchip itself and only vets, councils and other authorities have access to that information – so it’s totally safe.
If your cat gets lost or wanders a little too far and is picked up, the vet can scan the cat and immediately identify who they are. Then they’ll get in touch with you and you’ll be reunited as soon as possible.
A quick phone call can save so many hours or days of worrying about your little one!
When does cat microchipping become law in the UK?
Cat microchipping becomes law in the UK on 10th June 2024 for all cats over 20 weeks of age.
After that time, you’ll have 21 days to get your cat microchipped or you may face a £500 fine.
We strongly recommend microchipping your cat before then, though. It’ll be much easier to identify them and help reunite them with you should they ever go missing – better safe than sorry!
Using a microchip, you never have to sit there worrying about where your cat has gone, whether they are in an animal rescue centre somewhere or, even worse, whether you’ll see them again.
We think that this reassurance alone makes a microchip well worth getting!
How much does it cost to microchip a cat?
It doesn’t cost much to microchip a cat. On average, you can expect to pay £30–40 at the vet. That includes the microchip and entry onto the database.
If your contact details change, you may need to pay a small admin fee to have those details updated, but that’s it.
When should you have your cat microchipped?
We recommend having your cat microchipped as soon as you collect them. You certainly want them microchipped before they start going outside and exploring the neighbourhood!
A good time to ask about microchipping is when you take your cat in for its first checks or inoculations.
Another good opportunity is if you have them spayed or neutered, as long as that’s before they are 20 weeks old, which they should be.
Is microchipping painful for the cat?
No, microchipping is not painful for your cat.
The process is quite similar to having an injection, which means your cat may feel a little pinch, but it won’t hurt.
The microchip injection is at the back of the neck, where there are fewer nerves. It’s the same place your cat’s mother would pick them up with her teeth to move them around when they were a kitten.
Once in place, your cat won’t even realise the chip is there!
Having them microchipped while having their injections means it will all happen in a similar position and will be painless.
If you have it done while they’re being spayed or neutered, the vet will microchip them while they are under anaesthetic.
Either way, they won’t feel a thing!
What products can you use a microchip for?
As well as being able to reunite you with your wandering friend, cat microchips have other uses.
Microchip cat flaps
Microchip cat flaps are a fantastic invention. If you live somewhere with lots of cats – or simply wish the wind wouldn’t push the flap open in winter – you need a microchip cat flap.
It’s programmed to your cat’s unique microchip code and will only open for them. Did someone say VIP?
The rest of the time, it stays locked, keeping neighbouring cats and the winter weather out of your house!
Microchip cat feeders
Microchip cat feeders are another great innovation. If you have more than one cat and one of them is a rather sneaky sibling that likes to raid the other’s dinner, a microchip cat feeder can help.
Just like the cat flap, the feeder is programmed to only open to your cat’s unique microchip code.
As they approach the feeder, the feeder will recognise their code and open to give them uninterrupted access to their meal. If a sibling approaches it to try to steal their dinner, it won’t open.
It’s the simplest, fairest way to stop dinner raiding and keep everyone happy and safe.
In summary, we strongly recommend microchipping your cat.
Even if it wasn’t becoming law in June 2024, it’s such a good idea and so valuable that we’d still recommend it anyway!
There’s nothing quite like that hollow feeling in your stomach when your cat has disappeared without a trace and you’re left wondering whether you’ll ever see them again. We’re now so lucky to have a way to combat that feeling: a cat microchip!
Your cat can be their usual inquisitive self and explore the great outdoors as much as they’d like, so you can take comfort knowing you stand a higher chance of being reunited should the worst happen.
We know just how important our pets are, which is why we strongly urge you to speak to your vet and microchip your cat. Let’s keep you close to your pet – always!