Cat owners could be forced to microchip pets in bid to crack down on missing animals
Ministers said a 12-week consultation would look at bringing forward a law that would also help to tackle pet theft and help identify cats injured or killed on roads.
The move involves a vet inserting a chip “around the size of a grain of rice” under a pet’s skin, with a unique serial number that can be read by a scanner.
A computer then flags the details of its registered owner, allowing them to be reunited. It brings cats into line with dogs, which ministers imposed compulsory chipping on in 2015.
The Government said 92% of dogs had undergone the procedure, meaning those who been displaced were brought back to their homes “much quicker”, while space in kennels was freed up.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Today’s call for evidence on cat microchipping will help the government understand how we can better protect this country’s much-loved cats and kittens.
“This government is committed to animal welfare and improving the lives of our companion animals.
“Today’s announcement builds on a series of positive actions we have taken to improve welfare standards in this country, including a ban on the third-party sale of puppies and kittens and a commitment to increase maximum sentencing for animal cruelty from six months to five years.”
The move was welcomed by the charity Cat’s Protection as “a safe and permanent way to give a lost cat the best chance of being returned to their home”.
“Microchipping is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, yet each year we still take in thousands of cats which have not been microchipped,” he said.
“The majority of strays we take in are unchipped and so we are usually unable to trace an owner so the cats have to be rehomed.”