Do I have to microchip my cat?

Do I have to microchip my cat?

If you’re a cat owner in the UK, you might be asking ‘do I have to microchip my cat?‘ as there’s been a lot of discussion lately about microchipping, and whether it’s compulsory or not. And that’s because there’s been a very recent change in law for cat owners who live in England. Up until now it’s not been compulsory to have a cat microchipped but, from June 2024, it will be. With one in four households in the UK owning a cat (sorry, that should be ‘owned’ by a cat…) it’s very welcome news and will soon bring cats in line with dogs who have been protected through compulsory microchipping since 2016.  

The majority of cat owners already have their cat microchipped but, for those that haven’t, many are now asking ‘do I have to microchip my cat?’ So, here’s some common questions and answers which I hope you’ll find helpful.  

What’s changed to make it compulsory for me to microchip my cat?  

As part of the Action Plan for Animal Welfare pledge, the Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have announced that there will be compulsory microchipping for all cats from June 2024 in England. At the moment it’s only for England, although the Cats Protection League will continue to campaign for the same measures to be introduced in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Will this apply to all cats?

All cats in England will need to be microchipped except for those defined as ‘free living cats that live with little or no human interaction or dependency’, e.g. living on a farm, as a feral or community stray.  

Kittens will need to be microchipped before they reach 20 weeks of age but can be chipped sooner.  And it’s advisable to microchip puss before they go outside for the first time, as this is when they’re at the greatest risk of becoming lost or injured.  

image of feral cats exempt from microchipping

What’s the exact timeline for when I’ll have to microchip my cat?

If your cat has not yet been microchipped, you will need to ensure it is by the 10th June 2024.

What happens if I don’t microchip my cat?

If it’s found that your cat has not been microchipped by the 10th June 2024  you will be given 21 days to do so. And, if the cat still isn’t microchipped after the 21 days you could be fined up to £500.

Do I need to microchip my cat again if it’s already chipped?

No, not at all. If your cat is already chipped, the only thing you need to do is to make sure your contact details are kept up to date. It’s pointless having your cat microchipped if a vet or cat rescue facility can’t get in touch with you if your cat is found and handed in. When a cat is microchipped, the details are stored in a database, including the owner contact information, so make sure you keep them informed of any changes, such as if you move house or the cat has changed owner.

image of a lost cat microchipped

Do I have to microchip my cat at the vets?

Yes, your vet will be able to microchip your cat. They’ll implant the chip, quickly and painlessly, under the cat’s skin. The chip has a unique serial number which is stored in the database along with the cat and owner details.

To find those details, a vet uses a scanner to read the information and then contact the owner (as long as the contact details have been kept up to date). Some rescue agencies can also help in scanning a cat.

Microchipping isn’t expensive or harmful, so there’s no reason to put off having your cat microchipped. If you’re adopting a rescue cat or kitten, it’s likely the cat will have already been microchipped by the rescue agency – you just need to make sure the owner information is updated.  

My cat has been microchipped but he’s missing. Is there anything I can do?

The first thing to do is to contact the company holding the microchip information, let them know your cat is missing and check your contact details are correct and up to date. Hopefully someone will soon find Puss and you’ll be contacted. 

There’s a cat which keeps turning up at my door. Can I find out the microchip information to locate the owner?

If a cat turns up at your door, or regularly loiters, it could be lost. If you contact your local vet, or Cats Protection branch, they may be able to scan the cat and find the owner.  Each year many cats are taken in by a worried neighbour, thinking the cat is unwanted and a stray. But somewhere there’s often a frantic owner trying to locate their feline friend and fearing the worse. So please try and reunite them by taking the lost cat for a microchip scan.

image of lost cat waiting at cat flap

Just get it done…

So, if your cat isn’t microchipped then now’s the time to get it done. It’s all part of being a good cat owner so don’t wait until the 10th June 2024, but protect your cat now. There’ll be more chance of you being reunited should puss become lost or injured. Cats don’t always turn up just a few doors or streets away and a cat collar and tag can easily become detached from the cat. And it’s not just if the cat is lost, a microchip could also help you be contacted should your lovely cat be injured or sadly killed in an accident – it may not be the happy ending you’d hoped for, but it could save you from being left worrying for weeks, months or even years about what happened to your beloved pet.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s some amazing UK news stories about cats that have been reunited with their owners because of their microchip.

image of march 2021
image of April 2022
image of July 2022

Jess became lost just one month after arriving on the Isle of Wight. She found her way to an assisted living home where she stayed for 14 years. She was scanned by a vet who located Jess’s original owners, and the two were happily reunited.

Tilly was found 17 years after becoming lost following a house move. She was scanned by the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) and reunited with her owner who had thankfully kept their contact details up to date.
A week after going missing, Loki appeared 85 miles from home. Having somehow travelled across Yorkshire, she was scanned by the RSPCA and reunited with her owners. Only Loki knows how she travelled such a distance, but the microchip got her back home. .  

Has a microchip helped you be reunited with your cat? Or have you found a cat that you helped reunite with their owner? Please share your stories!

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    Am I a good cat owner?

    Am I a good cat owner?

    If you’re reading this page, the chances are you’re either already a good cat owner, or that you love cats and would like to be a good cat owner, or you have been a good cat owner in the past. (Apologies for saying ‘cat owner’ several times, we all know that we don’t own cats, and that they own us, but you get what I mean).

    But, no matter how much we love our cats, there will be times when we may doubt some of the decisions we make regarding the puss and their welfare. And we may wonder if we’re really doing the best thing for them. That’s natural, and it’s because we love them so much and want them to have their very best life.

    So, if you’ve ever had any of these types of questions in your head, you’re not alone:

    • am I feeding her the right food?
    • is it cruel that I keep him as an indoor cat
    • she looks so lonely on her own, should I have chosen two cats and not just one?
    • have I made things worse by not taking him to the vets sooner?

    The answers to those questions will depend on your circumstances, and your cat, but it’s likely you’re doing everything as best as you possibly can. Whenever I go on a guilt trip about something I have or haven’t done for my cat, I think of five welfare needs that my cats deserve to be met, and always feel reassured we’re doing ok. And I’m sure if you look at them too, you’ll feel the same about you and your beloved pets.

    The five welfare needs are covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and guide us as to our duty of care to our cats and other animal species.

    As long as what you’re doing is meeting these needs, and you’re doing the absolute best you can, you are indeed a good cat owner.

    A good cat owner provides a suitable environment and place to live

    Although cats often act as divas, nonchalant and a little bit snooty, they’re actually fairly easily pleased. They ultimately just want to feel safe, be warm / cool (depending on the weather and climate), have somewhere comfy to sleep, have access to food and water, be dry, have somewhere to go to toilet, have toys to keep them stimulated and active… you get the drift.  Basically, puss will love your home as long as all of those things apply and they have you at their beck and call. 

    You may feel sad because you can’t give them that lovely, soft cat bed you’ve seen online. But believe me, you’ll unpack the expensive purchase and, whilst putting it together or placing it somewhere safe, your cat will have climbed into the box, curled up, and gone to sleep. A cheap, home-made option will do just as well, because it’s safe and comfortable.  

    image of cat hiding

    Feeling safe also means having somewhere safe to hide if needed. Nothing fancy, under the bed is a great hidey place. And, somewhere high up so they can spot an imminent attack by something like a vacuum cleaner or other pet (a cat tower is great, but so is the top of a wardrobe). They like to view their surroundings, and keep an eye on the minions (i.e. us humans and pesky fur siblings).  They just  want to feel loved, safe and fed. 

    Let your cat be a cat…

    Another one of the welfare needs is: the need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns. In other words, your cat should be able to behave like a cat should. For example, we all know that cats are quite fussy sometimes when it comes to where they do their business – if outdoors, they’ll search for the prefect place, scratch around for what seems like ages, do what they need to do, then spend ages again covering it over. Let them. It’s their normal behaviour.

    If they’re indoor cats, make sure they have a clean litter tray to use (preferably more than one – the advice is always to have one per cat plus one), and that it is somewhere private and safe. They’re at their most vulnerable when toileting, so keep a litter tray away from a doorway where a human or other animal could suddenly appear just as they’re about to poop. 

    If you’re worried that keeping a cat indoors is cruel or not, this is the welfare need that makes us question it the most.  There’s no doubt that a cat’s normal behaviour is to be outdoors, stalking prey, laying in the sunshine, chasing mice.  But, it’s not always possible, or safe, to let them do that. 

    This is a decision that only you can make. Just because they’re indoor cats doesn’t mean that you stop them from exhibiting normal behaviours.  Let them chase toy mice. Play with them often. Entertain them with feathers on sticks or string to chase. Provide them with a cat tower so they can climb (as they would a tree) and have a great view over their domain. Hide treats in places where they have to search to be rewarded. Let them roam the house at nights, and let them look out of the windows. It’s not quite the same as being outdoors, but they’ll be ok. 

    Keep them either housed with, or apart from, other animals

    image of two cats together

    Many animals like to be housed with others, but cats?  Not always, they’re actually quite solitary animals. They can fool us into thinking they’re best mates with their annoying furry siblings, or the cat next door, but quite often they’re just tolerating each other.

    What this means is, don’t ever feel guilty if your cat is your ‘only fur child’. It may be more a problem for you than it is for them. And likewise, don’t feel bad if you have two, three or more cats together.

    If they all get on, great. If not, they’ll tolerate each other for your benefit and let you believe you have a happy brood…

    Provide a suitable diet

    A good cat owner should provide their cat with a diet that’s suitable for their age and needs. Whether wet or dry is up to you and your cat. There’s many arguments for both, but as long as you follow these rules, it’s all good:

    • It’s cat food
    • It’s for the correct age of cat
    • It’s the right quantity and provided regularly (dependant on age and health)

    Plus, water! Cats need access to clean water. Yes, they seem to prefer this from a human’s glass or the sink… and some rarely seem to drink at all. But they must have access to it.

    A good cat owner protects their pet

    The final welfare need is for animals to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease.

    As cat lovers we love our pets so much that we can have a tendency to overly worry sometimes about their health, searching the internet in a panic, thinking the worse, rushing them to the vets. The thought of letting them be in pain and suffer is unbearable. So, if you’re a good cat owner, meeting this welfare need is a given.

    Regularly handling the cat allows you to check for lumps and bumps, scratches or bites, fleas and ticks, sources of pain. (Easier if your pet is a fuss-pot, not as easy if they’re a diva who only lets you touch them on their terms!). If you find something? Pop them along to the vets. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

    image of cat with vet

    This welfare need is all about not letting them suffer, or deteriorate, so keep up to date with vaccinations, flea treatment and worming. Yep, stating the obvious, I know! But that’s because you’re a good cat owner.


    If you love cats, you’re bound to be a great cat owner / wanna be cat owner / cat friend. Don’t beat yourself up if sometimes you get things wrong, because you’re sure to be doing the best you can. And, as long as the welfare needs are taken care of, your cat will still love you, and you’ll still love your cat. 

    Give puss a good & safe home, let your feline friend ‘be a cat’, try to faciliate the relationship they have with any other furry siblings or the neighbood ‘street cat’ gang, feed him or her the right food & water, make sure they’re microchipped and have their vaccinations and check ups, and straight to the vet if you’re worried. And, everyone will be happy! 


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      Should I groom my cat?

      Should I groom my cat?

      The question ‘should I groom my cat?’ is a common one amongst cat lovers, and the answer depends on each cat’s individual needs, and their physical and mental wellbeing. Plus, your own confidence in handling your beloved feline.

      A great quality in cats is that they’re fairly self-sufficient. There’s no walking required, unlike a dog (although you can obviously walk your puss if that’s what they, and you, like to do. Our daughter does, and takes him to the park to play, but hey, that’s another story…). You don’t need to let your furry friend in and out of the house if they have a cat flap to use (even if they do prefer their human to open and close the back door for them upon demand). They have a fairly straight forward diet which requires little preparation. And, they require minimal equipment and care – a comfy bed, feeding bowls, a cat tower or two, litter trays, toys, vaccinations and health checks at the vets.  

      So, when it comes to the question ‘should I groom my cat?’, there’s often a difference in opinion from cat owners across the country and abroad.  And that’s because there’s many factors involved. Some cat owners are adamant that the cat can keep itself pretty clean by self-grooming (providing them with the perfect excuse to cough up a fur ball, quite often on the only piece of pale carpet in the house…).

      For some cats it’s absolutely true that they can do a pretty good job of keeping their coat in top notch condition and looking purrfect. But, not all cats either want, or are able, to do that. And for those cats, and their owners, a grooming intervention of some type and level becomes necessary. 


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         When might I need to groom my cat?

        Firstly, it’s good to groom your cat just because. You love your cat, your cat loves you, and so what could be better than you both relaxing together, cat on lap being groomed.  For those cats that love a fuss and being the centre of their human’s world, grooming is a win:win. It helps you bond, and stroking a cat is proven to be great for our own mental health. Plus, there’s a bonus for the human in that it helps to remove excess fur which, if left, is likely to appear in the form of a furball that you’ll most likely discover whilst walking bare foot to the bathroom in the middle of the night. (We’ve all been there…)

        So, other than grooming for pleasure, why else might you need to groom your cat? Well, if your puss is short-haired, in good health and lives mainly or solely indoors, grooming needs are minimal as a short-haired coat is a little easier to keep clean and free of mats. 

        image of cat paw in hand

        The indoor cat is less likely to gather dirt and debris in their fur, such as mud, leaves and some form of goo whose origin is always a mystery. And the hair is less likely to get tangled and matted. A healthy, nimble and flexible cat can lick its fur quite easily, even in those hard to reach areas, often spending hours doing so.

        Problems arise when the cat:

        • Has long hair that can easily tangle and mat
        • Goes outside and gets its coat messy
        • Is elderly and / or has health problems (e.g. arthritis) which makes it difficult to reach those difficult areas to keep clean
        • Has an illness and / or is on medication which can affect the condition of the coat and skin
        image of cats grooming each other meow meow groomer

        Who should groom; a professional or me?

        If your cat needs a groom, there’s two main choices: to groom the cat yourself, or to call in a professional cat groomer. Both have their merits and the choice needs to be the best one for you AND your lovely feline friend. The cat’s welfare is ALWAYS paramount without exception.

        I want to groom my cat myself


        If there are no obvious problems, such as serious matting or skin issues, you can absolutely groom your cat yourself. If you use the right tools, and cause no harm, injury or excessive anxiety for the cat (or you!), then why not?

        For a short-haired cat with no mats, just ten minutes in the evening whilst puss relaxes on your lap will keep him or her looking smart and gorgeous. And, feeling the fur and body regularly gives you the chance to check puss for anything unusual, such as a lump, bump, bite, injury or pest infestation.

        If you start grooming your cat as a kitten they’ll get used to being handled which means future vet checks, or visits to or from a professional groomer, will be a little easier for all concerned (i.e no human body armour required!).



        But, a word of warning – if you find a mat in the fur you MUST be very careful. A cat’s skin is very thin and if you pull a mat too hard, or if it’s matted tight to the skin surface, you could tear the cat’s skin and cause an injury.


        Plus, if the cat really doesn’t like you grooming it, and becomes aggressive and / or overly stressed, then stop – it’s not going to end well, either for the cat or for you, and will do more harm than good. 



        I want a professional groomer to groom my cat

        Call in a professional cat groomer if the cat has long hair, is matted or has a dirty coat, doesn’t like you grooming it, or if you don’t like to groom him or her yourself (or don’t have the time, tools or confidence to do so).


        A cat groomer knows their stuff – they have the right equipment for the task in hand, they’re experienced and are trained to do the absolute best thing for the cat’s physical and mental wellbeing.  Yes, there’s a cost involved – but it’s worth it. They’re an amazing source of helpful advice and guidance and, as they’re either mobile, have their own salon, or a combination of both, you can choose a groomer that meets you and your cat’s needs. 





        So, the answer to ‘Should I groom my cat?’ is yes, but how is up to you and your cat.   

        Happy grooming!

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