Call for compulsory cat chipping in Northern Ireland

Call for compulsory cat chipping in Northern Ireland

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

New rules will mean that from next summer cats in England must be chipped before  they are 20 weeks old and Cats Protection officials wants to see similar measured enforced here.

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.

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 explained: “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.”

In Northern Ireland the Assembly is responsible for animal welfare issues but there has been no progress on the issue with Stormont not sitting for more than a year.

Cats Protection’s 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.