Calls grow for compulsory cat microchipping in Scotland and Northern Ireland

12th June 2023
Industry News

Pressure is growing for devolved administrations to follow Westminster’s lead and introduce compulsory microchipping for all cats before they reach 20 weeks old.

Cats in Northern Ireland and Scotland must not be “left behind” by a lack of regulations on microchipping, charity leaders have warned.

New rules requiring cats to be microchipped before they are 20 weeks old are due to be enforced in England from next summer.

But Cats Protection officials have called for similar measures, like those are already in place across the UK for dogs, to apply to all feline pets, too.

The group has launched a petition with the USPCA [Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] in Northern Ireland, as well as highlighting the issue to Scottish politicians at an event in Edinburgh.

‘Left behind’

Cats Protection’s advocacy and government relations officer Alice Palombo said: “We don’t want to see cats left behind, particularly on something we know is a benefit to cat welfare.

“Compulsory microchipping of pet cats would ensure more cats can be reunited with their owners if they are lost or missing.

“It also helps to identify cats which have sadly died in road accidents and helps to reduce the pressure on animal charities which may find it impossible to trace the owner of an un-microchipped stray or lost cat, despite their best efforts.”

Hundreds of people have so far backed the petition in support of the measure in Northern Ireland, which USPCA chief executive Nora Smith argued would have “significant public benefit”.

She said: “We have seen the success with compulsory dog microchipping which has greatly reduced the number of stray dogs, and we hope that cat microchipping could have a similar positive impact on lost and abandoned cats.

“We are hopeful that alongside increasing the number of injured and lost cats reunited with their owners, new legislation will also help to tackle welfare issues for cats, including abandonments.”

Welfare issues

Animal welfare issues are a devolved matter, though there has been no power-sharing government in Northern Ireland for more than a year because of disputes relating to Brexit.

But Cats Protection said data from its annual Cats and Their Stats report showed only 60% of cats in Northern Ireland are currently microchipped, well below the UK average of 71%.

The Scottish Government has also indicated that it does not believe compulsory microchipping of cats is currently necessary, despite a petition, welfare groups and some politicians calling for it, while Welsh ministers have also faced similar calls.

Dozens of MSPs attended an exhibition staged by the charity at Holyrood to highlight that issue and other areas of concern including the limited availability of cat-friendly rental accommodation.


Credit to:  Calls grow for compulsory cat microchipping in Scotland and Northern Ireland  (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  Calls grow for compulsory cat microchipping in Scotland and Northern Ireland  [online]

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