Compulsory Cat Microchipping in England is Coming – Q&A for Cat Owners

5 June 2024

Cats going missing from home or becoming lost is unfortunately an all too familiar occurrence that many cat owners will have experienced. The chances of a lost or stolen cat being reunited with its owner are much higher if the cat is microchipped.

To help more missing cats be reunited with their owners, the rules on microchipping cats in England are changing.

What does the change mean?

The new legislation means that from 10th June 2024, cat owners in England will be legally required to microchip their cats by the time they reach 20 weeks of age. Owners who have not microchipped their cat will have 21 days to get their cat chipped, or may face a fine of up to £500.

What is microchipping?

Microchipping is regarded as a safe and effective way of permanently identifying an animal.

The microchipping procedure is normally quick and simple, and involves a vet or vet nurse inserting a small chip, the size of a grain of rice, under the cat’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. It only takes a couple of minutes and sedation is not required. The microchipping procedure is considered safe and complications are extremely rare.

Each microchip has a unique serial number, which gives each cat its own code. The number is registered on a microchip database that holds the cat owner’s contact details. A microchip scanner can be used to read the microchip and identify the cat’s owner, should the cat become lost.

Why should I microchip my cat?

Microchipping your cat is a crucial part of responsible cat ownership and is the best way for your cat to be reunited with you, if it gets lost or is stolen. We’ve all heard the miracle stories of cats that have been found hundreds of miles away from their home or been missing for months or years, and subsequently reunited with their owner, thanks to their microchip.

If an unidentified cat is presented to a veterinary practice, their first port of call will be to scan it to look for a microchip. Being microchipped is particularly critical if a cat is injured, and its owner needs to be identified as quickly as possible to agree veterinary treatment, when time is of the essence. If a cat is sadly found dead, being chipped allows its owner to be notified promptly, sparing them the emotional toll of not knowing what has happened to their cat.

Having your cat microchipped also means you can take advantage of microchip-activated technology, such as cat flaps, to prevent other cat’s entering your home, or automatic feeders.

My cat doesn’t go outside – is there any point in microchipping it?

There is a common misconception that there’s no point in microchipping cats if they are indoor cats. However, even indoor cats can escape, and having a microchip means a higher chance of the cat being returned if that were to happen. Although many cats wear collars or tags which can identify them, these can easily fall off and don’t offer the permanent identification given by microchips.

Will a microchip hurt my cat?

The procedure to insert the microchip is quick and should cause only momentary discomfort – similar to a vaccination – to the cat. The cat should be able to resume its normal activities shortly afterwards.

What do I need to do now?

If your cat is not yet microchipped, make an appointment with your vet practice to have a microchip fitted as soon as possible.

If your cat is already microchipped, make sure that your contact details registered on the chip are up-to-date. Remember to change them any time you move house or change your phone number. It’s also important to know which database your cat’s microchip is registered to as there are several different databases in existence.

What if I don’t microchip my cat?

Owners in England who have not microchipped their cat will have 21 days to get their cat chipped, or may face a fine of up to £500.

Remember, microchipping your cat is one of the best things you can do to ensure that it is reunited with you if it is lost or stolen.