UK cat owners face £500 fine if they miss deadline under controversial new law
| Last updated
UK cat owners could soon be facing a hefty £500 fine if they miss the deadline under a new law.
The controversial new legislation, which was laid out in parliament on Monday (13 March), is aimed at making it easier for lost or stray pet cats to be reunited with their owner and return safely to their homes.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), there are nine million pet cats in England, but as many as 2.3 million of them are not microchipped.
The new law ensures that cats must be microchipped before they reach 20 weeks old, and the owner's contact details must be stored and kept up to date in a microchipping database.
It has actually been compulsory for pet dogs to have this done since new legislation was introduced in April 2016, and their animal friends - or foes, depending on how you see it - will join them.
For those unaware of this really quite simple procedure, the microchip involves a small chip which is inserted under the cat's skin by a vet or a trained professional.
Your cat is then given a unique code, which can be scanned to match your contact details, ideal if your cat was to ever get lost.
Typically, the procedure costs between £20 and £30 depending on where you live, with the Cats Protection saying that microchipping is 'quick and painless' for your pet.
Cat owners will now have until 10 June 2024 to ensure that their cat gets microchipped, and any owner who is found to have not microchipped their cat after this date will have 21 days to do so.
If they fail to do so after that three-week period, then they could be slapped with a fine of up to £500.
Speaking on the new legislation, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “Cats and kittens are treasured members of the family, and it can be devastating for owners when they are lost or stolen.
“Legislating for compulsory microchipping of cats will give comfort to families by increasing the likelihood that lost or stray pets can be reunited with their owners.”
Meanwhile, Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss added: “I am pleased that we are progressing with our requirement for all cats to be microchipped.
“Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost pets. As we’ve seen with dog microchipping, those who are microchipped are more than twice as likely to be reunited with their owner.
“By getting their cat microchipped, owners can increase the likelihood that they will be reunited with their beloved pet in the event of it going missing.”