New law would see it compulsary for pet owners to have their cats microchipped
Cat owners who fail to have their pet microchipped could be fined or prosecuted under rules being proposed by ministers.
The Government plans to introduce compulsory microchipping for cats to subject them to the same safety measures that already apply to dogs.
Ministers believe the move will help to combat cat theft and identify pets which are injured or killed on roads.
A call was made by governement for evidence on cat microchipping as part of plans which could help reunite lost cats with their owners, tackle pet theft and identify cats injured or killed on roads.
The process of microchipping involves the insertion of a chip, generally around the size of a grain of rice, painlessly under the skin of a pet.
The microchip has a unique serial number which can be read by a scanner. When an animal strays or is lost, scanning the microchip means the registered owner can be identified and the pet can be reunited with them.
Although microchipping is a legal requirement for dogs, it is not currently required for cats unless they are travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme.
Compulsory dog microchipping was introduced in April 2016 and statistics show that 92% of dogs are now microchipped. As a result of compulsory microchipping, displaced dogs have been reunited with their owners much quicker, reducing the time they spend in rehoming kennels and reducing owner and animal distress.
Cats Protection’s Chief Executive, James Yeates, said: "Cats Protection, the UK’s leading cat welfare charity, welcomes this call for evidence on cat microchipping. Microchipping is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, yet each year we still take in thousands of cats which have not been microchipped.
"The majority of strays we take in are unchipped and so we are usually unable to trace an owner and the cats have to be rehomed."
Compulsory dog microchipping was introduced in England through the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 (the 2015 Regulations). The aim was to improve the welfare of dogs and help reduce issues related to stray dogs.