At this time, it is not mandatory in the UK to have one’s cat microchipped. However, there’s a chance you’ll have to do it sooner rather than later. Government officials have already begun making plans to introduce compulsory microchipping for cats. The move is in a bid to cut back on the ever-increasing theft of cats and to help identify pets who are killed on UK roads. It is already mandatory for owners to have their cats microchipped when traveling outside of the UK via the Pet Travel Scheme, yet it is not mandatory for cat owners in general.
We highly recommend having your cat microchipped. The microchip itself is tiny. In fact, it is smaller than a grain of rice and is injected under the cat’s skin, usually in the neck area. Each chip has an individual serial number, registered on a national database containing the owner’s contact details, making it much easier for a cat to be identified and returned to their rightful owner. Whether you have a brand-new kitten or have adopted an older cat, microchipping is beneficial because it gives them their best chance of being both identified and returned to you if they are lost or stolen.
There is no minimum or maximum age to have your cat microchipped. Most kittens, however, are microchipped at their first vaccination appointment, which is usually around the time when a kitten is eight weeks of age. Another common time to have your cat microchipped is when it is being spayed or neutered since they are already under anaesthesia at that time. If at all possible, it is best for your cat to be microchipped before ever allowing it to go outside in case it were to get lost. Because of this, it is best to get your cat fixed at a young age, not younger than eight weeks.
UK cat owners can expect to pay around £20 and £30 to have their cat microchipped, depending on where they live. Your local vet or rescue centre should be able to provide you with additional details. Cat charities and reputable cat rescue centres might also microchip your cat for a reduced rate. If you adopt from Cats Protection, the microchipping fee should be included with the adoption fee.
A consultation period on the proposed bill ended in January, and if it were to go ahead, the dates for the microchipped cats bill to be introduced would have been early summer. The current coronavirus may postpone that date, but animal charities believe it will be soon. The rules for microchipping cats would be very similar to the current legislation surrounding dogs. Back in 2016, dog owners who didn’t microchip their dogs were fined up to £500 for refusing to do so. Today, animal charities report that around 92 per cent of dogs are now microchipped. A spokesman for the government’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said having microchipped cats would give the animal’s owner “peace of mind.” One proposal involved council officials having the right to test and seize unchipped cats. They would then take them to a vet to get chipped and later issue the owner a £25 fine.
Figures from Cat Protection, the UK-wide charity, say that only two out of every 10 cats brought to their shelters and microchipped and able to be returned instantly to their grateful owners. But even if you have a microchipped cat, it’s not enough to simply get it done and then forget to update details when you move home – as Paula Boyden, veterinary director at the charity Dogs Trust, explained. She was referring to the fact that 69 per cent of microchipped dogs brought to Dogs Trust had details that were wrong. This was because dog owners hadn’t bothered to update either phone numbers or addresses.
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