5 days left to microchip your cat (or face a £500 fine)

Black and white cat being scanned by a microchip reader at the vet
(Image credit: Getty Images/LuckyBusiness)

Cat owners have five days left to microchip their cat and get them registered on a database — otherwise they could face a £500 fine.

The new law will come into effect on Monday 10th June in England, requiring cats to be microchipped by the time they're 20 weeks old.

According to the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2024, 22% of the cat population do not have a microchip fitted (that's 2.4 million cats!). However, more than half of cat owners aren't even aware of this new law.

In some states and cities in the US, like Houston and Hawaii, it's already a mandatory requirement to get pets microchipped.

Microchips make it easier to reunite pets with their owners, as their details are stored on a database. They can also be connected to the best microchip cat flap to stop unwanted visitors entering the home.

If your cat isn't microchipped then you probably have lots of questions, like how long it lasts and how it's fitted. We spoke with PDSA vet nurse Gemma to find out the answers.

How do microchips work?

Gemma says: "A microchip is the size of a grain of rice and sits under the skin and will have a unique number when scanned. When that’s plugged into the database, it will give us the details that the owner has given us for contacting them."

Microchips have to be fitted by a professional and the database must meet the government standards

How are microchips fitted and will it hurt my pet?

Gemma explains that the process is similar to an injection — the only difference is that the needle is slightly larger because it houses the small chip that goes under the skin. This is usually done in a consultation with the vet or vet nurse with you.

You won't need to sedate your cat or put them under anesthetic, in fact, they don't usually notice it's happening!

Cat being scanned for microchip

(Image credit: Getty Images/Martinedoucet)

How long does a microchip last?

A microchip lasts for life.

How to change details on a microchip

Want to update the contact details on the microchip? No problem! 

Gemma says you don't need to get a new microchip fitted; you simply have to fill out some forms with the registration company you're signed up to. Don't worry if you forget this, your vet can check for you.

It's really important that the details on the microchip are correct, otherwise, you won't be contactable if your pet goes missing.

Can you track a cat with a microchip?

Unfortunately, you won't be able to track your cat once they've been microchipped — you'll need one of the best pet trackers for that.

Why is it important to get your pet microchipped?

If your cat goes missing, a microchip will give you the best chance of being reunited. However, 16% of of cat owners don't think it's necessary, according to the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2024. 

Gemma says: "There are so many cats [...] that are found as stray or injured and we need to speak to an owner quite quickly. There's just no way of finding an owner because either [their collar slipped off] or there’s no form of identification. 

"With microchip, that can’t happen, it can’t be removed. Once it’s implanted, it’s there for life and it’s so easy to scan the microchip, get hold of an owner within minutes."

You might also like: How do microchip pet doors work? and How to find a lost cat.

Megan Milstead
Staff Writer

Megan is a Staff Writer on PetsRader, covering news, features and buying guides. She has a wealth of experience looking after animals, having grown up with dogs, cats and horses all of her life. She’s particularly interested in pet happiness and behavior, which she loves to research in her spare time. You’ll often find her watching webinars on reactivity in dogs or researching cat body language. She loves going the extra mile for her cats Chilli and Nala (who also help out with testing the best products for our buying guides). 

Megan studied BA Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was editor of Smoke Radio’s online magazine. She also graduated from West Herts College with a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Journalism. Before joining the PetsRadar family last year, she worked on the editorial team at Harrods and has spent most of her career writing for specialized titles, like RunningShoesGuru, Licklist and Mr. After Party. 

Megan works alongside qualified vets and accredited trainers to ensure you get the best advice possible. She is passionate about finding accurate and helpful answers to your pet-related questions.