A veterinary practice is urging owners to have their cats microchipped to avoid the heartbreak of losing their pet forever and landing themselves with a hefty fine.
Under a new law, all cats in England must be microchipped to make it easier for lost or stray pet cats to be reunited with their owners and returned home safely.
The Action Plan for Animal Welfare states all keepers must ensure their pet is microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchip database.
From June next year, owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted or may face a fine of up to £500.
Vets at Stanley House Veterinary Group have welcomed the move and believe it will spare cat owners the heartache and worry if their pet goes missing, as well as improve cat welfare with fewer strays abandoned on the streets.
Leanne Duckworth, clinical director at Stanley House Vets which has branches in Colne, Burnley, Barnoldswick and Higham, said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way to reunite them with their owners if they are ever lost, injured or stolen.
“Losing a cat can be so distressing but, if they are chipped, then there is a better chance their owners can be traced, as long as they keep contact details up to date on the database.
"Microchips are safe, easy to implant and effective. Unlike collars and ID tags, they don’t come off and they don’t put your cat at risk of injury.
“The easiest time to do this is when cats are booked in for neutering at 20 weeks and are anaesthetised so we would encourage owners to discuss both options – neutering and microchipping - with their vet.”
The simple procedure involves inserting a small chip with a unique serial number under a cat’s skin.
This number can be read by a scanner and checked against a microchip database to help reunite lost, injured or stolen pets quicker with their registered keeper.
According to Cats Protection (2021), there are more than 10 million pet cats in England, with as many as 2.3 million unchipped, meaning that it would be extremely difficult to reunite them with their owner if they were lost or stolen.
The compulsory microchipping of dogs over eight weeks old came into force in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2016.