The government has urged pet owners to microchip all cats and dogs in a newly launched appeal.
In a new statement, the government said that microchipping was a “vital part of being a responsible pet owner”.
Some 92% of dogs are now microchipped following compulsory measures introduced in 2016. Since the introduction of this legislation, dogs handled by local authorities have decreased by 15%, according to the Dogs Trust.
No such legislation is in place for cats, however, where microchipping is only mandatory under the Pet Travel Scheme.
According to research from Cats Protection, eight out of 10 stray cats handed in to their adoption centres during 2018 were unchipped.
The government said it is “now taking steps to introduce compulsory cat microchipping to give pet owners peace of mind, help tackle cat theft and identify cats injured or killed on roads”.
The government has now launched a consultation to determine if cat microchipping should be compulsory by law. The deadline for submitting consultation evidence is 4 January.
Zac Goldsmith, Animal Welfare minister, said: “Microchips are often the only hope of reuniting lost pets with their owners so it truly is the best New Year’s resolution you could make to protect your furry friend in 2020.
“I urge cat owners to microchip their cat and for dog-owners to make sure the details on the chip are up to date.”
Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s head of advocacy and government relations, said: “It is so important that cat owners microchip their pet cats as it is a safe and permanent form of identification.
“Cats love to explore, and are also great escape artists, so microchipping is important for cats, even those that live indoors. Microchipping ensures lost cats can quickly be returned home, and that owners can be informed if their cat is injured and taken to a vet.”
She added: “We all want the best for our much-loved pets, so making a resolution to have your cat microchipped is a great way to start the year.
“Cats Protection is delighted that the Government has shown its commitment to cat welfare and issued a call for evidence on cat microchipping including the benefits of making microchipping compulsory for cats, as it is for dogs.”
Dogs Trust’s veterinary director Paula Boyden said: “We see first-hand both the heartbreak that dog owners suffer when they are separated from their pets, as well as the joy of being reunited.
“This is why it is so important that owners keep their details on the microchip database up to date, as required by law. Doing so significantly increases the chances of a lost or stolen dog being reunited with their owner.”