The Government said it will introduce mandatory microchipping for all pet cats by the time they are 20 weeks old, or face fines of up to £500.
Under the new rules, all keepers must ensure their pet is microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database.
Owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted, or may face a fine of up to £500.
The change comes after a Government consultation on the issue found 99% of respondents expressed support for the measure.
There are over 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, with as many as 2.8 million unchipped, meaning that it would be very difficult to reunite them with their owner if they get lost or stolen.
Eight out of 10 stray cats coming into Cats Protection’s centres are not microchipped.
The microchipping procedure involves inserting a small chip with a unique serial number under a cat’s skin.
This number can be read by a scanner and checked against a microchip database to help reunite lost pets quicker with their registered keeper, saving heartache and concern.
Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations Jacqui Cuff said: “Every day, we see how important microchipping is for cats and for the people who love them – whether it’s reuniting a lost cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the sad event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car.
“Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost cats and can help ease the pressure on rescue charities like Cats Protection.
“Without a microchip, a lost cat will most likely end up being re-homed to a new home as there is often no trace of their original owner.”
There is also a review underway looking into the current rules on microchipping for dogs.