Saturday 4 December 2021

Microchip your cat or face £500 fine cat owners are warned (UK)

Compulsory dog micro-chipping has been in place since 2016 in the UK. It's now the turn of cats. In England, from 2023, all cat owners will be required to have their feline companions microchip or face a fine of up to £500. It's finally coming about. There's been a discussion for a long time about compulsory micro-chipping in the UK. However, it is not as simple as simply enacting a law because with respect to dog micro-chipping the law is marginally workable as there are too many microchip databases.

Lost cats can be reunited with microchips
You don't have to rely on a veterinary clinic to scan for a chip. You can do it. If you find a lost cat you can reunite that cat with their owner. You can purchase a scanner on Amazon for about £50. The scanner will tell you the chip number. You can then find out online which chip company has that number and contact the chip company.

There has been a delay in introducing mandated cat micro-chipping due to a review taking place into the regulations on micro-chipping of dogs. Veterinarians have raised concerns that the system which requires registering the microchip on about 15 separate databases can cause problems when trying to reunite dogs with their owners.

Microchip. Pic in public domain.

Defra plans to improve the database system before introducing mandated micro-chipping to cats.

There are over 10.8 million cat companions in the UK. I'm told by The Times newspaper that as many as 2.8 million are un-chipped. And 80% of stray cats brought to Cats Protection are not microchip.

Under the new law, can owners will have to ensure that their pet is microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks. Further, the contact details will need to be kept up-to-date on the database. Failure to comply with the law could result in a £500 fine if they do not rectify the problem within 21 days.

Lord Goldsmith, an animal lover and a friend of Carrie Johnson, who I suspect is pushing for these changes to animal welfare laws, said:

"Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure they're microchipped is the best way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen."

The new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country. They are part of the government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare according to Lord Goldsmith.

Jacqui Cuff, the head of advocacy at Cats Protection said:

"Every day, we see how important micro-chipping is for cats and for people who love them - whether it's reuniting a loss cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the said event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car."

The BVA (British Veterinary Association) are very much behind the new law but they are adamant that the database issue is dealt with in order to make the law effective.

P.S. In 2016, the Daily Record reported that at that time there were up to 6 firms operating separate databases in the UK which, it is claimed, made it almost impossible to operate. Some veterinarians said that the compulsory micro-chipping of dogs was unworkable as a result. There are other databases in Europe, the US and Canada. These databases are meant to be part of a network so they are cross-referenced but apparently this is not always the case. On occasions it seems that you can key in the microchip number for a dog that you know is micro-chipped and registered but the database comes up with a "no registration found" warning. This is the problem referred to by Lord Goldsmith.

Comment: one problem I foresee is enforcing the law. How does an official know whether a cat is micro-chipped or not? I suspect that the only time it will become apparent is when a lost cat is found and scanned by a veterinarian. If that cat is not microchipped and the owner can be found then they will be in line for a fine, potentially.

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