Cats Protection has welcomed a government call for evidence into introducing compulsory microchipping of pet cats.
The UK’s leading feline charity says microchipping should become a legal requirement for owned cats, as it already is for dogs. Currently, eight out of 10 stray cats taken in by the charity’s Adoption Centres in England are not microchipped, making it virtually impossible to trace an owner.
The government announced it has called for evidence into compulsory microchipping of cats following a ministerial visit to Cats Protection’s Mitcham Homing Centre by Theresa Villers, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Cats Protection’s Chief Executive, James Yeates, said the charity has been campaigning for microchipping to be made compulsory for owned cats and has recently launched a petition on the issue.
He said: “Microchipping is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner and is already compulsory for dogs. Cats are just as popular and well-loved, so it’s only right that this should apply to owned cats to ensure they have the same level of protection.
“Introducing compulsory microchipping of owned cats would encourage more cat owners to microchip their cats, meaning that lost cats can be identified and returned home rather than handed into rehoming charities as strays.
“It also means that injured cats can be quickly identified by vets and their owners can be informed and involved in their care. We’re delighted that the government has shown a commitment towards improving feline welfare and promoting responsible cat ownership in the UK by announcing this call for evidence. We now look forward to working closely with government to take this issue forward.”
Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: “I welcomed the opportunity to visit Cats Protection to see at first-hand the vital work they do in protecting our much-loved cats and kittens. Today’s call for evidence on cat microchipping will help the government understand how we can better protect these animals and demonstrates that this government is committed to animal welfare and improving the lives of our companion animals.
“Today’s announcement builds on a series of positive actions we have taken to improve welfare standards in the country including a ban on the third-party sale of puppies and kittens and a commitment to increase maximum sentencing for animal cruelty from six months to five years.”
Out of just under 11 million owned cats in the UK (The PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report (PAW) 2019), 29% are not microchipped – which makes a total of over three million unchipped pet cats with permanent means of identification.
Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, helping around 200,000 cats every year through a network of around 250 volunteer-run branches and 36 centres.
During 2018, 82% of stray cats taken in by the charity’s Adoption Centres in England were no microchipped.
The charity recommends microchipping as a safe, permanent and cost-effective method of identification which ensures cats can be reunited with their owners should they go missing. Under current regulations, dogs must be microchipped but this law does not extend to cats where it’s down to owners to decide.
One cat reunited with her owner thanks to her microchip was Holly, who has been missing for months when she was handed into Cats Protection as a stray.
Because she had a microchip, volunteers were quickly able to reunite her with relived owner Ruth Lawrence from Wigan, Greater Manchester.
Ruth said: “Holly had been missing for so long, I had started to give up hope of seeing her again. But because she had a microchip, I was informed as soon as she had been taken in by Cats Protection. Getting her home after so long was wonderful, and it was only possible thanks to her microchip. Microchipping is part of being a responsible cat owner, and I fully support any move to make it compulsory.”