Millions of cat owners face being forced to microchip cats under under new law

Cat owners will be required to microchip their pets.   (PA)
Cat owners will be required to microchip their pets. (PA)

Millions of cat owners could be forced to microchip their pets as part of a new legal requirement expected to be approved by parliament.

The proposed measures are part of a renewed effort to further raise the UK’s animal welfare standards.

Pet ownership soared during covid lockdown and it is estimated that 2.6 million cats are not microchipped. That is a quarter of the feline population.

Microchipping involves the 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 if they break the law. If local authorities discover a dog without a microchip, owners will have to fit one within 21 days or be fined up to £500.

Organisations including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the Blue Cross have called for a law forcing drivers to report hitting a cat, but Holden claimed microchipping is the best way to reunite owners with their dead pets.

The microchip plans came as as MPs considered a petition on requiring drivers to stop when they run over a cat with microchips helping to identify the deceased pet.

Transport minister Richard Holden is backing the law on microchipping to be brought in during this parliamentary session.

He added: “Cats tend to roam unaccompanied and are likely to go out at night.

“Drivers also may not realise that they have had a collision with a cat in some instances, or small animals very similar to rabbits or other wild animals, which can also cross roads late at night.

“There are also hazards associated with stopping to check whether animals are alive or not, especially if they are very small animals.

“Having the law to make it a requirement to report road collisions involving a cat would be difficult to enforce, especially when, as members across the House made clear, Petplan have suggested it might be in terms of hundreds of thousands of these incidents being brought forwards a year.”

Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi said many people considered cats “as part of the family”, adding: “This, alongside their independent nature, inquisitiveness and aloofness has helped them to be one of our favourite pets.”

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 170, drivers are required to stop and report incidents of hitting livestock or working animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs.

Conservative MP James Daly said changing the law would be simple, telling MPs: “You simply add a word into legislation, which is ‘cat’. Then we achieve what has been said.”

He added: “Much as we all love goats, we shouldn’t be differentiating in respect of animals on value.”