Government consults on microchipping for cats

Environment secretary seeks evidence on whether use of technology should be compulsory for pet owners

Credit: Алексей Боярских from Pixabay

The government has launched a consultation on whether it should be compulsory for cat owners to fit their pets with microchips.

Since 2016, microchipping has been a legal requirement for dog owners. The government claims that 92% of dogs in the UK have now been fitted with the technology. 

According to the government, the process – which involves inserting a chip “the size of a grain of rice” under an animal’s skin – is painless. Once the chip is installed, it can be scanned and read, allowing the owner to be identified.

The government claims that compulsory microchipping has meant that lost dogs are reunited with their owners much quicker, with less time spent in rehoming kennels. Requiring the use of the technology is also intended as a tool in combatting the theft of animals.

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It is hoped that equivalent legislation for cats could have a similarly positive impact.

The government consultation is “only looking at evidence of the consequences” of introducing the law – and not “opinions” on whether it should do so.

Feedback is being sought on the “benefits and drawbacks” of making microchipping a legal requirement for cat owners, and the likely costs of doing so. The government is also seeking input on whether such a law “could help fix any nuisance problems”, as well as what it might mean for stray or feral animals, and where any exemptions ought to apply.

Responses on how best the rules could be drawn up, policed, and enforced are also welcomed, as are “experiences with current compliant microchip databases”.

The call for evidence is open to submissions until 5pm on 4 January.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “[This] call for evidence on cat microchipping will help the government understand how we can better protect this country’s much-loved cats and kittens. This government is committed to animal welfare and improving the lives of our companion animals.”


Sam Trendall

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