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Microchip your cat… or face a £500 fine

Microchip your cat… or face a £500 fine: New laws aim to reunite lost and stolen pets with their owners as thefts soar by 12 per cent

  • Around 2.8million of the UK’s 10.8million pet cats are estimated to be unchipped 
  • Kittens will be expected to have a microchip before they reach age of 20 weeks
  • The chip is the size of a rice grain with a unique serial number under a cat’s skin 


All pet cats will have to be microchipped by 2023 under new laws aimed at reuniting lost and stolen animals with their owners.

Refusal by owners to get a chip would be a criminal offence, with fines of up to £500, the Government said yesterday.

Around 2.8million of the UK’s 10.8million pet cats are estimated to be unchipped, making it difficult to reunite them with their owners if they get lost or stolen.

Cat theft is increasing – up 12 per cent in 2020 on the previous year, according to police figures.

Pedigree cats are targeted by thieves for breeding or resale if found to be neutered, with Bengals, Siamese, British shorthairs and Maine coons the most sought-after breeds, according to the group Pet Theft Awareness.

Around 2.8million of the UK’s 10.8million pet cats are estimated to be unchipped, making it difficult to reunite them with their owners if they get lost or stolen (file photo)

The new rules on cats will bring them into line with dogs, which are already required to have a microchip. About 90 per cent of all dogs have them.

Kittens will be expected to be given a microchip before they reach the age of 20 weeks.

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

Around 99 per cent of respondents in a Government consultation expressed support for the measure, officials said.

Eight out of ten stray cats coming into the Cats Protection charity’s centres are not microchipped.

Having the implants is painless. It involves inserting a small chip – the size of a rice grain – with a unique serial number under a cat’s skin and costs £15 to £30.

This number can be read by a scanner and checked against a microchip database to help reunite lost pets quicker with their registered keeper. Cat owners will be expected to keep their address details held on the database up to date, which can involve extra charges.

Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said: ‘Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen. 

The new rules on cats will bring them into line with dogs, which are already required to have a microchip. About 90 per cent of all dogs have them (file photo)

The new rules on cats will bring them into line with dogs, which are already required to have a microchip. About 90 per cent of all dogs have them (file photo)

‘These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our action plan for animal welfare.’

Jacqui Cuff, head of advocacy and government relations at Cats Protection, said: ‘As the country’s leading cat charity, we have been at the forefront of the campaign for compulsory microchipping of pet cats.

‘Every day, we see how important microchipping is for cats and for the people who love them – whether it’s reuniting a lost cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the sad event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car.

‘Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost cats and can help ease the pressure on rescue charities like Cats Protection.

‘Without a microchip, a lost cat will most likely end up being rehomed as there is often no trace of their original owner.’

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