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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Animal Welfare charities call on NI Executive to catch up on compulsory microchipping of pet cats

Cat with microchip being read

The Northern Ireland Companion Animal Welfare Group (NICAWG) is calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to make compulsory microchipping of pet cats a legal requirement. 

New legislation introduced today (Monday 10th June) by the UK Government, means cat owners in England have until 10 June 2024 to microchip their cats before they reach the age of 20 weeks. Owners found not to have their cat microchipped will be given 21 days to have one implanted or risk a £500 fine.

With more than 9 million pet cats in England, the Government says the introduction of mandatory microchipping will make it easier for lost or stray pet cats to be reunited with their owners and returned home safely.

Microchipping is already compulsory for dogs and is proven to be the most effective method for identifying lost pets, with microchipped dogs more than twice as likely to be reunited with their owner.

Microchips are safe and easy to implant with an average cost of around £25 for microchipping and registration. Charities and reputable cat rescue organisations may be able to microchip your cat for a reduced rate.

The process of microchipping involves the insertion of a chip, generally around the size of a grain of rice, under the skin of a pet. The microchip has a unique serial number that the keeper needs to register on a database. When an animal is found, the microchip can be read with a scanner and the registered keeper identified on a database so the pet can quickly be reunited with them.

Nora Smith, Chair of NICAWG stated:

“Microchipping is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner and compulsory microchipping in Northern Ireland would significantly improve cat welfare here. It ensures cats and kittens can be quickly returned home if they get lost, stolen or injured, and means owners can be informed in the tragic cases where cats are killed on the road.

“We come across many cases of stray cats coming into our centre, and if they’re not microchipped it can be impossible to find their owner. On the other hand, if they’re microchipped, we can return them home very quickly. We had a case last year where a cat was reunited with their family after being missing for over two years. This happy ending was only possible because the cat was microchipped”.

According to the Cats and Their Stats 2023 report by Cats Protection, over a quarter of Northern Ireland’s 300,000 pet cats are not microchipped. NICAWG believe compulsory microchipping of pet cats would substantially increase the likelihood of them being returned to their homes if lost. 

Janet Hume, Vice Chair of NICAWG commented:

 “Cats without a microchip put a  strain on rehoming organisations like ourselves which are already stretched by long waiting lists. Without a microchip, we may have no way of tracing an owner, and this means we spend valuable time and resources caring for and rehoming a cat which actually already has a loving home.

“Cats are treasured members of the family for many people, and it can be devastating when they go missing. Sadly, many people only realise just how important microchipping is once their cat has gone missing, and by then it can be too late.”


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