Compulsory microchipping for cats and kittens could be introduced in England as early as next year, in a move that would help reunite thousands of owners with their lost or stolen pets.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched an eight-week public consultation on Wednesday on proposals to make it mandatory for owners to microchip their cats, seeking input from vets, owners and members of the public.
The proposed measures are part of a renewed effort to further raise the UK’s animal welfare standards, particularly now that it is outside the EU.
Pet ownership has boomed during lockdown and it is estimated that 2.6 million cats – over a quarter of the UK’s feline population – are not microchipped. An earlier call for evidence showed 99% of respondents supported the practice.
Microchipping involves the painless insertion of a chip, generally around the size of a grain of rice, under the skin. When an animal is found, scanning the microchip – which has a unique serial number – means the registered owner can be identified on a database and the pet can quickly be reunited with them.
Owners are likely to face the same penalties as dog owners