Why Do I Need to Microchip My Cat?

Why Do I Need to Microchip My Cat?

There’s a new law now in force that will require all owned cats in England to be microchipped. What are the details of this new law? Why does my cat need a microchip? How is this done?

What is a Microchip?

A microchip is a minute device about the size and shape of a grain of rice. Each chip has a unique number – when a chip is scanned with a microchip scanner this unique number is identified. Each chip needs to be registered with an owner on an online database. The microchip is implanted under an animal’s skin (subcutaneously) via a needle, which must be done by a trained individual. In dogs and cats, a microchip is commonly placed in the scruff of the neck. This can be done without any anaesthetic and generally does not need any fur to be clipped.

When implanted properly, microchipping is very safe. The most common side effects are pain when the chip is first implanted, localised swelling and bleeding, although these are rare . Microchips are designed to last the life of your pet, and rarely fail. They can occasionally migrate to another part of the body, and very rarely can cause swellings that require their surgical removal. But the vast majority of microchips cause no issues after implantation.

What is the Benefit of Having a Microchip?

The main benefit of having a microchip is that your pet can be individually identified – many pets look alike to those who don’t know them, but with a chip they will have a unique number. This means that if a pet ever goes missing, is stolen, or even dies away from home, anyone who finds the pet will be able to get the chip scanned and the owner found. Dogs with microchips are much more likely to be reunited with their owners if they go missing, compared to dogs without. Cats Protection says the same is true for cats: “We regularly reunite owners with their much-loved cats, and in most cases, this is only possible thanks to microchips. No matter how far from home a cat is found, or how long they have been missing, having your cat microchipped gives them the best chance of being returned home safely to you.”

What is the New Law?

From the 10th of June 2024, owned cats in England must be microchipped and registered before 20 weeks of age. This includes indoor and outdoor cats, but does not include cats with little human interaction, such as farm or feral cats. It will NOT be compulsory in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as yet.

Should a cat be found to not have a microchip, their owner will have 21 days to get one implanted. If the cat is still not chipped after this time, the owner may face a fine of £500. Vets will not be responsible for reporting or enforcing this law, but many vets will scan chips as part of a routine consult and may advise you of the law if your cat is not chipped. It is also mandatory to register the chip and ensure the details are kept up to date. Many chip implanters can register the chip for you, but you may have to do this yourself. If your details (such as address) change, you will need to update these online – some chip databases charge a fee for this.

Note that it is already mandatory for dogs and horses in the UK to be microchipped.

How Do I Get My Cat Microchipped?

A microchip must be implanted by a trained professional. These may include veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, or other individuals. Many rescue centres, charities and other organisations offer microchipping. The costs of microchipping vary but are generally £10-30; some charities may offer discount or free chipping. Most rescue cats will have been chipped before they are rehomed.

Good news – microchipping is included in our membership plans. Simply give us a call and book your cat in to have the procedure.

Many cats are neutered at around 16-20 weeks of age, so we advise microchipping at the same time – your cat will be under a general anaesthetic so will not feel the chip being implanted. Of course, the chip can be implanted before this, if needed.

Once your cat is chipped, avoid rubbing the area for a few days until the injection site closes up – very rarely, if disturbed, a microchip can come back out of the entry site You should also check the chip has been registered properly online. We would advise at your next vet visit to ask the vet to scan your cat’s chip to check it is working properly. If you are unsure if your cat has a microchip already, ask the vet to check.


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