RSPCA welcomes UK Government announcement on compulsory cat microchipping in England

RSPCA welcomes UK Government announcement on compulsory cat microchipping in England

The RSPCA has today (Saturday 4 December) welcomed the UK Government announcement on bringing in compulsory microchipping for owned cats in England.

The animal welfare charity supports this move which would make it mandatory for cat owners in England to microchip their pets. As an animal rescue organisation, the RSPCA knows the most reliable way to ensure cat owners are reunited with their lost or injured cats is through their microchip. The charity also believes that microchipping could help to tackle welfare issues for cats including abandonments.

The RSPCA has seen an increase in cat abandonments since the spring which may be related to lack of access to neutering programmes, but the charity believes this can be reversed by the introduction of mandatory microchipping which will provide a link between the owner and an abandoned cat.

David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said:

We're pleased to see the Westminster Government progressing with their pledge to bring in compulsory microchipping for owned cats in England. We believe this should be routinely carried out ideally when the kitten is neutered at around four-months-old as they are under anesthetic.

We've seen many stories of cats that have been hit by a car or strayed who never end up being reunited with their owner as they weren't microchipped, as well as the happy stories where cats have been reunited with their owners by our dedicated officers thanks to this tiny chip.

The new plans come under the UK Government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare, and will mean that cat owners must ensure their pet is microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks. Owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to do so, or may face a fine of up to £500.

In 2020, only around 500 cats, out of the more than 3,000 arriving in the RSPCA centres were previously microchipped - which is just 15%. 

David added:

Microchipping your cat means that should they be lost, or injured they can easily be returned to you. It is a very easy procedure which involves a tiny microchip being quickly and simply inserted under the animal's skin and this then gives the pet their own unique code. The microchip can be scanned and matched to the owner¿s contact details which are kept on a database.

We have seen the success with compulsory dog microchipping which has reduced the number of stray dogs in the past five years and cat microchipping could have a similar positive impact on abandoned cats. This is of course great news for cats in England, but we're also hoping the Welsh Government will act and introduce compulsory microchipping for cats in Wales too.
If an owner moves house or changes their telephone number they must also make sure that they tell the database they are registered with so that they have up-to-date contact details.  If the information on that database is old and out-of-date then the chip is useless. Telling your vet does not automatically update the details on the database but this is something you can do yourself online.

We have supported the call for compulsory microchipping for owned cats and look forward to working with the UK Government on a clear definition of an owned cat to ensure enforcement undertaken by local authorities is as clear as possible.

Cats reunited thanks to the microchip

Reunited after four years

In August this year, a cat who had been missing from her home for FOUR years was reunited with her grateful family. RSPCA Inspector Elizabeth Boyd was contacted on 3 August to rescue a cat which had been found near a nursing home in Whixley, Harrogate. The residents had been feeding the cat, called Nora, for a little while but that day they saw that she appeared to be struggling to breathe and needed urgent help. Elizabeth took her to a vet and managed to track down the owner with the details on the microchip. She contacted Nora's owner Rachel Johnson, who was shocked and thrilled to have her back. When Nora went missing the family had been devastated and after so long they had given up hope of ever seeing her again.

Rachel said:

It's just incredible to have Nora back. She's just so lovely! And I'm so appreciative of the RSPCA.

Cat went missing after going out as usual

In May this year, the RSPCA reunited Katie Parkinson with her cat who had been missing for over a year. Black cat Rupert went missing from his home in Port Sunlight back in May last year when he left the family house as usual - but never returned. His owner Katie was frantic that her pet hadn't come home and over the next few months she did everything she could to find him but she had no luck.

Then exactly a year later RSPCA rescuer, Inspector Anthony Joynes called Katie and broke the unexpected news Rupert had been found - two miles away from his home in Bebington. Rupert had been spotted as a stray and a member of the public was concerned he had an injured paw so she called the RSPCA.

Katie said:

When he called I was gobsmacked. I just burst into tears as I really thought he was never coming home. I had tried for months to find him. He knew exactly who I was and it is obvious he has missed me as he just won't let me out of his sight or leave me alone!

Keep track of your pets by microchipping