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The government has passed a new law that all cat owners need to know about

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© JoeSang - Pixabay

Pet owners must get their cats microchipped under new government legislation. The measure is part of a wider welfare plan designed to give all animals the best possible life.

By Ashley Murphy

Published on the 14/05/2021, 21:00, Updated on the 04/06/2021, 15:48

Environment Secretary George Eustice announced the new law this week, and it's expected to come into force early next year. The details are still to be finalised, but the policy will probably work in the same way it does for dogs.

All dogs in the UK must be microchipped by the time they're 8-weeks old. Owners who don't comply can face a fine of up to £500.

Most people agree with the new law

Government ministers will draft the final version of the law based on advice from vets, animal behaviour specialists, and rescue charities.

Experts think that 25% of the UK's 2.5million cat population hasn't been microchipped. As such, cat shelters have difficulty reuniting stray kitties with their concerned owners, and many attempts are unsuccessful. 

A recent survey by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found that 99% of people supported making microchipping of cats mandatory. The proposal has also received backing from many of the UK's biggest animal charities, including the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

 "We see strays being brought to us every day," said Peter Laurie, the deputy chief executive for Battersea. "Unfortunately, we are often unable to trace their previous owners as they have not been microchipped. So we support compulsory microchipping of every cat before they go to their new home."

A policy that everybody can support

This recent announcement is a small part of the government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare. Additional measures include outlawing remote-controlled training collars for dogs, a ban on exporting live animals for slaughter, and changes to how farmyard animals are confined. 

Everything you need to know about microchipping your pet

But the most significant change of all isn't practical; it's philosophical. The plan aims to recognise the sentience of many animals. This will acknowledge that our pets and other animals can experience physical, mental, and emotional suffering. If enshrined into law, it would be a major step in extending the rights of all animals.

So, for once, it looks like the government has suggested something that every decent person can get behind!