Pet Health
is your cat microchipped law changes

Is Your Cat Microchipped? - Why The Law Is Changing

Written by Steph McCulloch & Emma Kenfield


Did you know that thousands of pets are lost every year in the UK and are sadly never reunited with their owners? Microchipping gives the best opportunity to reunite lost pets with their owners in the event they go missing or are stolen.
Cat going through cat flap


On the 13th of March 2023, new legislation was laid in parliament making cat microchipping compulsory. Owners now have until the 10th of June 2024 to microchip their cats or they could face a fine of up to £500 if they fail to do so.

Did you know that thousands of pets are lost every year in the UK and are sadly never reunited with their owners? Microchipping gives the best opportunity to reunite lost pets with their owners in the event they go missing or are stolen. In this article, we’re exploring the benefits of microchipping and what exactly it involves. 

What is microchipping?

Hairless cat being scanned for microchip

A brief explanation

Microchips are electronic chips, roughly the size of a grain of rice, implanted through a small needle under the skin in between the shoulder blades, used as a means to provide pet ownership details. The chip contains a unique number which can be read by a microchip scanner and provides personal contact information. The information kept on your code is stored in a database which can be accessed online.

Microchipping is a permanent and effective way of storing your details; it gives you the best chance of having your pet returned to you should they go missing, get lost or are stolen, providing ultimate peace of mind. It’s an inexpensive procedure, costing typically around £20-30, depending on your location and local vet fees. Whilst collars and ID tags provide ownership information, these aren’t as permanent and can easily fall off.

Where and when was it developed?

Cat being scanned for microchip

The first ever pet microchip was patented in 1985 by AVID, a company based in California. Following this, microchipping was introduced in the UK in 1989 and prompted a group of higher organisations (veterinary bodies, animal charities and microchip suppliers) to work together, as a measure to tackle irresponsible pet ownership and reduce the risk of strays.

How does it work?

Cat being microchipped

Sounds complicated? It’s not – you can get your pet microchipped at your local veterinary practice. It’s harmless too – as with any injection, there may be some short-term discomfort, but they will get over this very quickly. The best part, there are often lots of distraction techniques that veterinary staff use to make the procedure as stress-free as possible for your four-legged friend. It’s recommended to get your pet chipped whilst undergoing surgery to be spayed or neutered, as they will already be under anaesthetic.

The important stuff: you must remember that getting your pet microchipped is meaningless unless you register the chip online to a microchip database. Anyone who works or has worked in a veterinary practice can tell you the countless times a pet has been chipped but it has not been registered online, and so becomes futile. It is additionally vital that these details show up-to-date contact information, and it is your responsibility as a pet owner to ensure so. 

Common anxieties

We know that you may feel a little anxious around microchipping your pet and have questions and concerns surrounding it, wondering whether you really need to get it done. This is completely normal, but you don’t need to worry; the vet who administers your pet's microchip can answer any queries you have to put those worries at bay. Microchipping is a simple procedure and once done, will ease any anxieties you may have. After all, we’d do anything to protect our furry companions, wouldn’t we?

Why do cats need to be microchipped?

Cat held by vets

The benefits

As careful as we all try to be, accidents can and do happen. Doors are accidentally left open and there are even escape routes in the garden that you weren’t aware of. Microchipping your pet means that these accidents become less of a worry - you’re given more peace of mind knowing that your pet can be safely returned to you. It’s a permanent form of identification and as well as this, it’s proof of ownership.

Since 2016, it has become a legal requirement to microchip your dog, and soon it will be the same for cats. Why is the law changing? Well, not only is microchipping great for owners and their families but for rescue centres too. The more lost pets there are, the more pressure there is on shelters to look after them, and this is not always manageable if the number is ever-growing. So, you won’t just be helping yourself, but others too. It’s a win-win.

Recently, The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has worked to introduce new guidance, which requires vets to scan the chips of all healthy dogs to help ensure they are not put down necessarily. With this new law being introduced in 2023, the same will apply to cats, and so microchipping gives the benefit of knowing you have the best chance possible of being reunited with your feline friend.

Does it apply to all cats?

You may not have thought so, but yes, indoor cats need to be microchipped too. As we discussed earlier, accidents can happen. Even if you do keep your cat indoors, there’s always a risk that they can get out - and if they do, you’re a lot more likely to find them again if they’ve got a microchip. Once again, it’s also proof of ownership that your cat belongs to you. 

The statistics

Vet injecting cat

There are over 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, and a staggering 2.8 million of those cats are unchipped, making it increasingly difficult for them to be reunited with their owners should they get lost or stolen. You may have heard of Cats Protection League, a well-known cat charity organisation working to rehome cats all over the country. As stated on their website, Cats Protection helped to reunite as many as 2500 cats with their owners in 2019 alone - all because they had a microchip, demonstrating just how useful they are.

So with the benefits of microchipping explained, it’s also important to remember that failure to get this done by the 10th of June 2024 can result in being fined up to £500, which none of us want. 

Under the new government plans, new cat owners need to ensure that their cat is chipped by the time they reach 20 weeks of age. If you are thinking of getting a new cat, it is recommended to get them microchipped before they go outside for the first time. For existing cat owners, if you haven’t got your furry friend chipped already, go ahead and book that appointment at the vets.


Microchipping is an incredibly helpful procedure that helps to keep our cats safe. Many of us consider our cats as members of the family and would do anything to be reunited with them in the worst-case scenario.

The compulsory cat microchipping legislation is just one of the many being introduced as part of the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. Other parts of this plan include tackling puppy smuggling, introducing a pet abduction offence to crack down on theft, and banning remote-controlled e-collars.

As well as using microchipping to protect your pet, insurance is also another sensible option for both indoor and outdoor cats. Pet insurance is a great way to take control and secure peace of mind. Whilst we wish we could protect our pets from everything, accidents and illnesses usually strike without zero warning. 

Taking out a pet insurance policy is the best way of ensuring both you and your pet are protected at all times. At Waggel, we just offer one kind of policy, Lifetime to ensure your pet is under our care for their entire life, not just a month or two. 

As a Waggel member, you’ll also gain access to exclusive perks and rewards. We also work directly with Pet Database to allow our customers to store their pet's details (such as microchipping information) safely and securely. We also offer 24/7 online vet care with Joii, completely free of charge.

For your free cat insurance quote, click here and join us today

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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