Microchip cats could become mandatory in England starting next year to reunite lost pets with their owners.
A two-month consultation on the proposal will be held by veterinarians, owners and members of the public.
The animal rights group Cats Protection estimates that 2.6 million cats in the UK – around 26% – are not microchipped.
It was said that eight out of ten stray cats dropped in adoption centers in England in 2018 were unoccupied, leading to prolonged – and sometimes unsuccessful – efforts to reunite them with their owners.
Stray cats lost in this way include Larry, the brown and white tabby who was found in London without a microchip and brought to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home before being adopted as Chief Mouser at 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.
James Yeates, General Manager of Cats Protection said, “With a microchip, a lost cat has the best chance of being with its owner quickly.
“We regularly hear heartwarming stories of the great joy and relief when a missing cat is brought back home thanks to the details of its microchip.”
A previous call for evidence by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found that 99% of people were in favor of the requirement to microchip cats.
Peter Laurie, Associate General Manager of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, said, “We see strays brought in every day, many of which have been clearly popular pets who may be just too far from home.
“Unfortunately, we are often unable to trace their previous owners because either they were not microchipped or the details on the chip are not up to date.
“We support the mandatory microchiping of pet cats and we microchip each cat before it moves into its new home.”
UK Veterinarian Christine Middlemiss said, “As we’ve seen with dogs, the mandatory microchip is critical to reuniting owners with their valued pets if they are lost or stolen.”
What does microchip contain?
In this process, a chip, generally about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted under the skin of a pet and its unique serial number can be read by a scanner.
Since the introduction of the mandatory dog microchip in 2016, around nine million dogs have been microchipped.