Microchipping Cats – the law is Changing in the UK

The law around microchipping cats is changing meaning if your feline family member isn’t microchipped by summer 2024, you could face a fine of up to £500.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing explains: “The new microchipping rules mean all cats must be implanted with a microchip before they reach the age of 20 weeks.

“The law changes on 10 June 2024 so any owners found not to have microchipped their cat by then could face a fine of up to £500.”

The 2022 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report found that 76% of cats were already microchipped. Out of those who were not, 27% of owners said their cat wasn’t microchipped because they were unlikely to stray, while 19% thought it was not necessary.

Nina explains everything you need to know:

What is a microchip?

“A microchip is a very small device – about the size of a grain of rice, that contains a unique number linking a pet to their owner,” she shares. “The microchip is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades using a needle. It takes just a few seconds.

“Once microchipped, owner contact details and the pet’s unique identification chip number are stored in a pet microchipping database to help reunite lost, stolen or injured pets with their owners as quickly as possible. It is important that owners should keep these details updated if they move house or change their contact details.

“Here at PDSA, we have always recommended that where possible pets are microchipped. It has been a legal requirement for dogs since 2016 and we’re happy to see the laws changing for more of our furry family members.”

Does microchipping hurt? 

“Many pets barely react to being microchipped as the area of skin where implantation is done is near the ‘scruff’ of the neck, between the shoulder blades, where the skin tends to be looser; this is despite the needle looking larger than a vaccination needle, for example.” Nina adds.

“Like any injection, microchipping can cause a small amount of discomfort, but fortunately it’s a very quick procedure that takes just a few seconds and a tasty treat afterwards is likely to quickly distract them if they do become upset.

“Microchips are made out of non-reactive materials, so once it’s in place it shouldn’t hurt or cause them any problems throughout their life.

Where can I get my pet microchipped?

“Microchips can only be implanted by vets, veterinary nurses, and people who have been specially trained. Most owners get their pets microchipped at the vets, but if you go elsewhere (such as a rescue centre or grooming parlour), it’s important to make sure the person chipping your pet is qualified to do it and can provide evidence that they’ve completed a DEFRA approved training course and received their certificate of competence.

How do I register my pet’s microchip?

“The professional that microchips your pet may pass your details to your microchip database company and register your details, or they may provide you with the documentation, so that you can register your pet yourself. To register your details they will need your name, address, phone number, pet’s details, email address and alternative emergency contact telephone numbers

How long do microchips last?

“Microchips are hardwearing and should last for your pet’s lifetime. It’s incredibly unusual for them to break or become faulty, but in the very rare case that one fails (meaning it can’t be read by a scanner anymore) you can get aa replacement fitted. There is no need to remove the old faulty chip, your vet can simply place the new chip in alongside it.

“More commonly, microchips can move a small distance away from where they are implanted but this doesn’t hurt, it very rarely causes problems and the chip will still be picked up if it’s scanned.

What should I do if I re-home or sell my pet?

“If you rehome or sell a pet, you need to contact their microchip database company to let them know. They will give you a form or code to pass on to your pet’s new owner enabling them to change the details on the microchip. This process is designed to prevent people from changing a pet’s microchip details without the owner’s permission (i.e. if they were stolen).”

For more information visit pdsa.org.uk/cats

PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk

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