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New cat microchipping legislation in England - what do I need to know as a cat owner?

New cat microchipping legislation in England - what do I need to know as a cat owner?

New legislation was introduced in England by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the 13th March 2023 stating that all cat owners must have their pets microchipped by 10th June, 2024. If you don’t get your cat microchipped, you will be given a 21 day warning to do so. If you still don’t, you could face a fine of up to £500.

Why has the cat microchipping legislation been introduced?

The statement highlights that the Government's flagship Action Plan for Animal Welfare includes a change that campaigners believe will increase the likelihood of reuniting lost or stray cats with their owners. As many as 2.3 million unchipped, meaning that it would be very difficult to reunite them with their owner if they get lost or stolen. The new microchipping rules follow a Government call for evidence and consultation on the issue in which 99% of respondents expressed support for the measure.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:

“Cats are treasured members of the family, and it can be devasting for owners when they are lost or stolen.

“This important step delivers on our manifesto commitment to introduce compulsory microchipping for cats and will help protect millions of cats across the country by increasing the likelihood that lost or stray pets can be reunited with their owners.”

What is microchipping?

Cat microchipping is a process of inserting a small electronic chip, about the size of a grain of rice, under the skin of a cat, usually between the shoulder blades. The chip contains a unique identification number that can be scanned using a special device to retrieve the cat owner's contact details from a database. Microchipping is a safe and effective way to help identify and reunite lost or stray cats with their owners. 

How do I know if my cat is microchipped?

If you adopted or rescued your cat recently, you may not know if your cat is microchipped. You can take your cat your local vets and they will be able to use a scanner to see if your cat is microchipped. he scanner is a handheld device that emits a radio frequency that can detect the microchip's unique identification number. If your cat has a microchip, the scanner will display the identification number, which can then be used to locate the owner's contact information in the microchip database.

Does microchipping hurt my cat?

Microchipping is a quick and relatively painless procedure for cats. It is similar to getting a vaccination or a routine injection. The microchip is inserted using a sterile needle under the skin between the shoulder blades, which can cause a small amount of discomfort or a pinch sensation that usually only lasts a few seconds. Some cats may feel a little soreness or sensitivity in the area for a day or two after the procedure, but this is usually temporary and does not require any special treatment. 

Where is the microchip data stored?

Microchip data is usually stored in a database managed by a third-party company that specialises in pet microchip registration and recovery services. There are a number of microchipping companies in the UK that are compliant with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs (DEFRA). These are listed below:

What happens if a cat changes owner?

If you are giving your cat to someone else, or if you are getting your cat from an existing owner, you will need to contact the microchip registration company that manages the database where your cat's information is stored. The registration company will have a process for updating your contact information and any other details associated with your cat's microchip. The exact process may vary depending on the company, but typically, you will need to provide proof of ownership, such as your cat's registration papers or adoption paperwork, as well as your updated contact information, such as your current address and phone number. Some microchip registration companies may also allow you to update your cat's details online through their website. It is important to keep your cat's microchip information up-to-date to ensure that your cat can be quickly and easily identified and returned to you if they are lost or stolen.

What if I don’t know where my cat is microchipped?

If you are unsure where your cat is microchipped, you can get the microchip ID number from your vet and then enter it into one of the microchip search tools online.

How much does it cost to microchip my cat and what can I do if I can't afford to have my cat microchipped?

In the UK, you can expect to pay anywhere between £20 and £30, depending on where you live. Speak to your local vet for details, or get in touch with your local rescue centre or cat charity. Often, charities and reputable cat rescue organisations may be able to microchip your cat for a reduced rate.

Is microchipping the same as GPS?

No, this is a myth. A microchip is not a GPS tracker. If your cat goes missing, someone - a vet, council dog warden. inspector, animal collection officer etc. - will need to scan them for the chip and find out who the animal is registered to, and investigate from there.

Need more help or have questions? Leave them below and we will do our best to answer them or put you in contact with one of the microchipping companies who will be able to help.

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