Call to make chipping of cats compulsory in NI

Call to make chipping of cats compulsory in NI

MLAs have been urged to make the microchipping of pet cats a legal requirement.

The call from animal welfare charities comes after new legislation will see cat owners in England risk a £500 fine if they do not microchip their pets.

More than a quarter of 300,000 pet cats here are not microchipped, according to the Cats And Their Stats 2023 report by Cats Protection.

The Northern Ireland Companion Animal Welfare Group (NICAWG) said the compulsory microchipping of pet cats would substantially increase the likelihood of them being returned to their homes if lost.

NICAWG chairwoman Nora Smith said they see many cases of strays cats that cannot be reunited with their owners.

“Microchipping is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner and compulsory microchipping in Northern Ireland would significantly improve cat welfare here,” she said.

“It ensures cats and kittens can be quickly returned home if they get lost, stolen or injured, and means owners can be informed in the tragic cases where cats are killed on the road.

“We come across many cases of stray cats coming into our centre, and if they’re not microchipped it can be impossible to find their owner.

“On the other hand, if they’re microchipped, we can return them home very quickly. We had a case last year where a cat was reunited with their family after being missing for over two years.

“This happy ending was only possible because the cat was microchipped.”

NICAWG vice chairwoman Janet Hume added: “Cats without a microchip put a strain on rehoming organisations like ourselves which are already stretched by long waiting lists.

“Without a microchip, we may have no way of tracing an owner, and this means we spend valuable time and resources caring for and rehoming a cat which actually already has a loving home.

“Cats are treasured members of the family for many people, and it can be devastating when they go missing. Sadly, many people only realise just how important microchipping is once their cat has gone missing, and by then it can be too late.”