Compulsory microchipping of cats

29 February 2024

A group of leading animal charities and veterinary organisations have joined forces with DEFRA to issue an urgent reminder to owners to microchip their pet cats, as England starts its 100-day countdown to compulsory microchipping* from 10th June, all pet cats over 20 weeks old must be microchipped and registered on a compliant database – or owners could risk a fine.

However, latest data from the CATS (Cats And Their Stats Report), produced in 2023 by the UK’s leading cat welfare charity Cats Protection, estimates 2.2 million pet cats in England were still unchipped, while another 300,000 cats have owners who are unsure whether or not their cat is chipped. They along with DEFRA, Battersea, The British Veterinary Association, The British Small Animal Veterinary Association, International Cat Care, PDSA and the RSPCA are all urging owners to have their cats microchipped.

The latest Cats Protection figures also show that more than one in four owners (27%) say they haven’t chipped their cat because their pet doesn’t venture outdoors, and around one in five (18%) say their cat doesn’t wander very far even when they do go out. In addition, the most recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, produced in 2023, showcases seven in 10 cat owners (67%) were unaware that new requirements come into effect from 10 June requiring all pet cats over the age of 20 weeks to be microchipped.

Madison Rogers, Head of Advocacy, Campaigns & Government Relations for Cats Protection said: “After many years of campaigning, we are delighted that cats in England will finally be given the same protection in law as dogs. As we enter the 100-day countdown, we’d urge owners to use the time to make sure their cat is chipped and the details are up to date. “It’s important to remember that all pet cats over 20 weeks need to be microchipped, even if they are indoor cats or ones which stay close to home. Cats are agile, curious and can be masters of escape, and it’s easy for family members or visitors to accidentally leave a window or door open. If this does happen, indoor cats are equally at risk of getting lost as other cats – perhaps even more so if they’re unfamiliar with the surroundings – so it’s vital they are microchipped. “No matter how far from home they are found, or how long they have been missing, if a cat has a microchip there is a good chance they can be swiftly returned home.”

Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer said: “Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost pets. As we’ve seen with dog microchipping, animals that are microchipped are more than twice as likely to be reunited with their owner. I would urge owners to get their cat microchipped before the deadline to increase the likelihood that they will be reunited with their beloved pet in the event of it going missing.”

Here are some tips veterinary staff may wish to share with existing or new clients who are cat owners:

  • If their cat still isn’t microchipped or, to check if their cat is chipped, book an appointment with the veterinary practice.
  • If their cat is already chipped, encourage them to check that the contact details linked to their chip are up to date.
  • If they are adopting a cat between now and June, advise them to check they have a microchip. They should ask to see the microchip certificate, vet records or pet passport.

Please see the recently updated BSAVA Scientific Position Statement about Pet Identification here: https://new.bsava.com/position-statement/pet-identification/ and the joint Policy Position by BVA, BSAVA, SPVS and BVNA here: https://www.bva.co.uk/media/3746/full-bva-bvna-bsava-spvs-policy-position-on-the-microchipping-of-cats.pdf.

*The 100-day countdown starts on Saturday 2 March