Microchipping cats: What you need to know

by PDSA | 5 March

From 10 June 2024, it will be a legal requirement in England to microchip your cat.

Following our 2024 PAW Report findings, 54% of cat owners are not aware that cats must be microchipped in England by 10 June 2024. The UK Government has made it compulsory to microchip your cat by this date or you may be fined. This new legal requirement follows a Government call for evidence and consultation, which found 99% of respondents expressed support for microchipping cats.

This new law will make it easier for lost or stray cats to be reunited with their owners and be returned home safely. Many are also hoping that this new law will help tackle common welfare issues for cats such as abandonment. Microchipping is a one-time expense – but your cat will be covered for the rest of their life.

From the cost of microchipping cats to how microchipping works, everything you’ll need to know is explained below.

Is microchipping compulsory?

Yes, all cat owners must ensure their cat is microchipped from the 10 June 2024. This means that you should have your cat microchipped before this deadline.

Our 2024 PAW Report findings showing a whopping 22% of the cat population, nearly 2.4 million cats, are without a microchip.

The new rules mean that cats must be microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks – with the only exception being feral cats. Their contact details must be stored and kept up to date in a Government approved pet microchipping database.

If you miss the deadline, then you’ll have 21 days to have one implanted or you may face a fine of up to £500. This law is only applicable to England at the current time, but we recommend that you get your cat microchipped regardless of your location.

Who can microchip my cat?

Only a trained professional can fit your cat’s microchip. Ask your vet, local council or local rescue and rehoming centre if they can microchip your pet – but they might charge a small fee.

When should I microchip my cat?

If you haven’t already, you should microchip your cat as soon as possible. As it will be a legal requirement by 10 June 2024, many cat owners will be trying to book an appointment for their pet to be microchipped. This could mean that there is a waiting list for your pet’s microchipping appointment. That’s why we recommend speaking to your vet as soon as possible to find out all your options.

Why should I microchip my cat?

Microchipping your cat will help to ensure that if they are lost, stolen, or injured, you have the best chance of being reunited as quickly as possible. The best time to microchip your cat is when they are being neutered – but don’t worry if you’ve missed this window, you will be able to book a microchip appointment with your vet.

It’s important to remember that indoor cats will be included in the new law, they must also be microchipped. Even with the new law, it’s a good idea to get them microchipped as it’s easy for them to slip out through a window or a door.

How does microchipping work?

A microchip is a tiny identification device the size of a grain of rice, which links a pet to their owner once it has been registered. Each chip contains a unique number that can be read by a scanner. Once the microchip has been implanted the unique number will need to be registered at a government recognised database where the owner’s contact details will be linked to the pet’s new Identification number. If your cat gets lost, anyone with a scanner can scan them, call the microchip company and reunite you with your four-legged friend.

What is a microchip cat flap?

A microchip cat flap is a very useful tool, especially if you live in a highly populated cat area. You programme the cat flap so it only recognises your cat’s microchip allowing them access to your home, while keeping other cats out. If you have multiple cats, you can register them all to the cat flap. As long as you’ve programmed their microchip number in, your cats will be allowed access.

A tabby cat passing through a microchip cat flap staring straight into the camera

What is a microchip food bowl?

Similar to a microchip cat flap, a microchip food bowl uses your pet’s microchip to control access to their food. This is ideal if other cats are eating your pet’s food, if you need to restrict your own cat’s diet or if your cat is on a special diet.

How much does it cost to microchip my cat?

The cost of microchipping is usually between £10 – 30. You’ll also find that some vets include a microchip in their health plans and some charities offer them for free or a reduced cost.

Will microchipping hurt my cat?

No, the procedure of microchipping cats is quick and fairly painless, a bit like an injection. The microchip is put under the skin between the shoulder blades and placement takes just a few seconds. Cats very rarely react to having a microchip placed.

How long do microchips last?

Microchips should last for your pet’s lifetime – once in place it shouldn’t hurt or cause your cat any problems. It’s extremely rare for them to become faulty and can’t be read – but the chip manufacturer will usually provide a replacement if it does. Your vet will simply place the new chip alongside it.

What if I move address or change my contact information?

It’s important to keep your details up to date ensuring that you can be contacted if your pet goes missing. with their owners due to them forgetting to update details. So be sure to get in touch with your microchip company to check your information is up to date.

Can I transfer ownership of a pet with a microchip?

If you are rehoming your cat, you’ll need to contact your microchip database. You must complete the transfer of ownership document so that the new owners’ details will be on the list instead.

What database is my cat’s microchip registered to?

In the UK, there are many different microchip database companies. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your cat is registered with one that is approved by the UK Government.

You can ask your vet which database your cat is registered to as they can scan and check. It should be on your original registration paperwork as well or you can find out yourself by entering your cat’s number here.

What if I lose my cat?

If your cat is lost or stolen, contact your microchip company to let them know ASAP. They will then check your details are up to date and flag your cat as lost or stolen. This way, they can contact you straight away if your pet is found.

What happens to a microchip when a cat dies?

Firstly, you should report this news to your microchip database so that the files can be updated. As for the microchip – because it doesn’t have batteries or moving parts, there is no danger in cremating the microchip along with your pet’s remains.

For more information on microchipping your cat, read our Pet Health Hub article here.




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