Compulsory microchipping of cats arrives but millions of cat owners risk a fine

Katie Court
Authored by Katie Court
Posted: Friday, June 14, 2024 - 12:00

From 10th June cat owners in England must ensure their pets are microchipped or face a fine of £500 but Cats Protection research shows owners of up to 2.2 million cats have yet to comply.   

Early data from the charity's Cats And Their Stats Report for 2024 shows there around 1.9 million cats in England who are not microchipped and around 300,000 cats have owners who aren't sure if their pet is microchipped.  

Of the owners who haven't microchipped their pet, one in four (26%) said their cat doesn't venture outdoors and around one in five (19%) said their pet didn't wander far when they did pop out. Around one in seven (14%) said their cat was identifiable by its collar and another one in seven (14%) said they just hadn't thought about microchipping their cat.

Cats Protection says microchipping is important because it will greatly enhance the ability of cat charities, vets and councils to reunite lost cats with their owners.

Madison Rogers, Head of Advocacy, Campaigns and Government Relations for Cats Protection, said: "Some owners think they are never going to go through the trauma of losing their pet cat, but in the last year 115,000 pet cats in England went missing and never returned home so this is much more common than people think.

"Cats are nimble and extremely agile and can easily slip out without us noticing. It's very easy for cats that live indoors to escape, particularly in the summer where it's easy to accidentally leave a window or a door ajar.

"Many lost cats live a frightening life on the streets. No food, no water, no shelter, no veterinary care and constantly at risk of severe injury or death from many hazards such as cars and wild animals. Collars can easily drop off, become damaged so that the address details become unreadable and, if they are not quick release, can become snagged on obstacles like tree branches, causing injuries to the cat.

"In contrast, a microchip is safe, stays with your cat for its lifetime and is linked to contact details that are stored safely in a database. Provided that owners keep the contact details up to date, then a microchip provides the very best chance of being reunited with a lost pet."

Alice Potter, cat welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: "We have seen cats coming into our care who are sadly not microchipped and may never be reunited with their owners. On average, 11% of all cats coming into the RSPCA's care are still not microchipped. 

"We've also rescued cats who have been microchipped but the details haven't been kept up-to-date which is arguably even more frustrating as it means cats spend a long time in our care whilst we fruitlessly try to contact the owner with out of date information.

"However, we've also seen countless stories of cats that have been reunited with their owners thanks to a tiny microchip - showing what this change of legislation will achieve for animal welfare."

Sandra Sinclair, a teacher from Tooting in South-West London, was grateful for her cat Nutmeg's microchip after he went missing from his home in December 2021. 

Her hopes were answered when a few weeks later Nutmeg was found wandering the streets of Ascot in Berkshire some 30 miles away. He was taken to Bracknell and Wokingham Cats Protection who scanned him for a microchip and were able to return him to Sandra and her family.

Sandra said: "We have no idea how he got to Ascot. Did he jump into a delivery van or maybe someone attempted to steal him because he was so friendly? Only Nutmeg will ever know but my family and I are just so relieved we had him microchipped."

According to Cats Protection, it usually costs between £20 and £30 to have your cat microchipped, depending on where you live in England. Chat to your vet and they can arrange this simple and easy procedure.


Further information about the benefits of microchipping can be found on the Cats Protection website at or at the RSPCA website at

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