Millions of cat owners face £500 fine if they don't microchip pets

Millions of cat owners face £500 fine if they don't microchip pets Millions of cat owners face £500 fine if they don't microchip pets
  • There are an estimated 2.2 million cats who are not microchipped in England
  • Will YOU microchip your cat? E-mail: [email protected]

Millions of cat owners could face a hefty £500 if their feline isn't microchipped before turning 20 weeks old, according to a new law.

It is already a legal obligation for dog owners to have their pets chipped, however today the rule will also extend to cats.

Of the estimated nine million pet cats in England, up to 2.2 million are still not chipped, according to data from the charity Cats Protection.

Owners found not to have microchipped their pet will have 21 days to have one implanted or face a fine of up to £500.

The new law has been introduced by ministers in the hopes of reuniting thousands of lost felines with their owners as well as deterring pet theft.

There is currently no legal requirement to microchip cats in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Workers at the Derbyshire Cats Protection Centre noted that at least 66 per cent of the cats they encountered over the last twelve months were not microchipped.

WHAT IS THE NEW RULE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR CAT ISN'T MICROCHIPPED?

From June 10 it will be a legal requirement that all cats over the age of 20 weeks old will need to be microchipped and registered.

Pet owners have 21 days to comply to the new regulations or are in danger of being hit with a £500.

To microchip your cat, you should book an appointment with your veterinarian or local rescue centre.

The procedure typically costs between £20 to £30.

They will then quickly and simply insert the small microchip under the feline's skin via a needle.

The microchip can then be scanned to search for the owner's details which are kept on a database.

Your pet's microchip details should be kept up to date. This can be done by getting in touch with the microchip company.

If you are unsure of your microchip number or company you can ask your vet for assistance.

The centre's manager, Helen Wood pointed out that it is incredibly difficult to reunite missing cats with their loving owners if they have not had the procedure.

Explaining the swift and non-dangerous 'one-off' treatment, Ms Wood compared the tiny chip to a grain of rice.

She told the BBC: 'It's very small and can be implanted by our vets very quickly.

'It doesn't hurt the cats, it's like giving them an injection and they are then chipped for life.'

Veterinarian Tatum Stander, who works at Bright Side Vets in Swadlincote echoed the importance of having felines chipped as well as keeping their details updated.

'One of the worst thing you can go through is to lose your pet,' she added.

'People think you get the microchip done and your details are updated automatically.

'Please make sure your phone number and address is up to date on the system or we won't be able to reunite your cat with the owner.'

Microchips have also been a saving grace for some owners like Sandra Sinclair, who have been briefly separated from their beloved pets.

The chip tucked away in her cat's skin was a lifeline for he teacher's after her feline - Nutmeg - went missing in Tooting, southwest London.

The feline was later discovered wandering the streets of Ascot in Berkshire, 30 miles away from home, and was later reunited with his family after his microchip was scanned by Cats Protection.

Ms Sinclair said: 'We have no idea how he got to Ascot. Did he jump into a delivery van or maybe someone attempted to steal him because he was so friendly?

'Only Nutmeg will ever know, but my family and I are just so relieved we had him microchipped.'

Over one in four owners, who have not microchipped their pets have said its because their feline doesn't explore the outdoors.

Another one in seven reasoned that their pet cat was identifiable by its collar alone, according to research from Cats Protection.

Microchipping a cat with a vet typically costs between £20 to £30, the charity reports.

Madison Rogers, head of advocacy, campaigns and government relations for Cats Protection, said: 'Some owners think they are never going to go through the trauma of losing their pet cat, but in the last year 115,000 pet cats in England went missing and never returned home.

'Cats are nimble and extremely agile and can easily slip out without us noticing.

'Many lost cats live a frightening life on the streets. No food, no water, no shelter, no veterinary care and constantly at risk of severe injury or death from many hazards such as cars and wild animals.

'Collars can easily drop off, become damaged so that the address details become unreadable and, if they are not quick release, can become snagged on obstacles like tree branches, causing injuries to the cat.

'A microchip is safe, stays with your cat for its lifetime and is linked to contact details that are stored safely in a database.'

Alice Potter, cat welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: 'We have seen cats coming into our care who are sadly not microchipped and may never be reunited with their owners.

'On average, 11 per cent of all cats coming into the RSPCA's care are still not microchipped.

'We've also rescued cats who have been microchipped but the details haven't been kept up to date, which is arguably even more frustrating as it means cats spend a long time in our care whilst we fruitlessly try to contact the owner with out-of-date information.

'However, we've also seen countless stories of cats that have been reunited with their owners thanks to a tiny microchip - showing what this change of legislation will achieve for animal welfare.'

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