A picture of a microchipped ginger cat in the grass wearing a collar and ID tag
Cats News

UK cat microchipping law: What you need to know

A picture of Dr Scott Miller veterinary surgeon, ITV This Morning celebrity vet

Dr Scott Miller

It’s now UK law to microchip your cat. Dr Scott Miller is here to share what you need to do to protect your feline and make sure you’re following government microchipping guidelines.



A picture of a microchipped tabby cat lying on a wall wearing a collar

Do chats have to be microchipped by law in the UK?

On 13 March 2023, the UK government introduced new rules to make microchipping your cat compulsory.

This means that by law:

  • Your feline must be chipped before they turn 20 weeks old
  • Their contact details must be stored and kept up to date in a microchipping database
  • All cat owners must have their felines microchipped by 10 June 2024


> What happens if I don’t microchip my cat?

If you’ve not met the 10 June 2024 deadline, you’ll have a grace period of 21 days to microchip your cat.

Otherwise, you could be given a fine of up to £500.

It’s also important to know that some providers won’t be able to offer your cat insurance if they’re not microchipped.


A picture of a microchipped grey long haired cat sat by stairs wearing a collar

Why has the UK government made cat microchipping mandatory?

After leaving the EU, the government promised to revolutionise the treatment of animals in the UK. This meant legally recognising animals as sentient beings (the Animal Sentience Bill) and promising new measures to protect them.

The result of this pledge was Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which included the introduction of compulsory microchipping for cats.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey hopes that the measure will give comfort to pet parents with lost or stray cats. Microchipping increases the chance of reuniting missing felines with their owners.


A picture of a black cat getting microchipped by a vet

How are cats microchipped?

Your cat has a small chip (similar in size to a grain of rice) inserted under their skin, usually between their shoulder blades. This can be done by a:

  • Vet
  • Trained and insured member of an animal welfare organisation
  • Local authority

The chip has a unique code that can be scanned to link your cat to your contact information. This data is securely stored in a cat microchipping database.

It’s important to check that you’re using a database which meets government standards. Here’s some examples of approved databases for dog microchipping data, many of which are also used to store cat microchipping data.

You’ll also need to keep these records up to date in case your cat does go missing and they need to contact you.


> Can you feel a microchip in a cat?

It’s not always easy to do so, but you can sometimes feel the microchip under your cat’s skin.

Your cat won’t feel the chip and it won’t bother them as they go about their daily adventures.


A picture of a brown and white cat sat on a vet table

How much does it cost to microchip a cat in the UK?

The cost to microchip your cat varies depending on where you live and which vet practice you use. Speak to your vet and they’ll let you know their pricing.

Cat microchipping often costs around £20 – £30.


> Can you get free cat microchipping through the RSPCA?

Some branches of the RSPCA may occasionally hold free microchipping weekends. You often don’t need an appointment, just to turn up within the event time slot.

Your cat needs to be over 8 weeks of age and you’ll often be asked to:

  • Bring your cat in a secure basket
  • Bring proof of ID
  • Make sure your feline is in good health

Other charities (such as the Blue Cross) can also offer free microchipping services at their clinics, rehoming centres, and hospitals.

Microchipping isn’t always free but pet charities and organisations may be able to give you microchipping at a discounted cost.

For example, some branches of the RSPCA will microchip cats and dogs for £10.


A picture of two kittens sat on a vet table waiting to get microchipped

Are there any side effects or complications with microchipping your cat?

Microchipping is a straightforward procedure that doesn’t need any recovery time. It doesn’t cause any allergic reactions or side effects to your feline.


> Does microchipping hurt cats?

Your cat may feel a quick sharp scratch from the needle when inserting the chip under the skin, but they shouldn’t experience any pain after it’s in.


A picture of a tuxedo cat getting their chip scanned at the vets

How do I know if my cat is already microchipped?

Responsible breeders and cat charities will microchip your cat or kitten for you.

If you’re unsure, a microchip scanner can check if your feline is already chipped. This is a service offered by veterinary nurses in clinics and normally free of charge.


> How do I update my cat’s microchip details?

Most cat charities will update your cat’s microchip contact details upon adoption. They’ll hand over the paperwork and your cat’s microchip number (keep these safe).

You may need to switch over your cat’s microchip details yourself if you’ve gone to a breeder. Remember to ask for your feline’s paperwork and keep in mind that databases may charge an admin fee to update records.

If you’ve lost your cat’s:

  • Paperwork – you might be able to check their details on the Petlog look-up tool using their microchip number.
  • Microchip number – ask your vet or take them in to be scanned
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