Millions of cat owners could be forced to microchip their pets as legislation to make it a legal requirement is expected to be introduced in the “coming weeks”.
The long-awaited proposals could soon be presented to parliament as MPs consider a petition asking drivers to stop when they run over a cat, according to Transport Minister Richard Holden.
Organizations such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the Blue Cross have called for a law requiring drivers to report hitting a cat, but Holden said microchipping was the best way to reunite owners with their dead pets.
“Cats tend to roam unaccompanied and are likely to come out at night,” Holden said. “Drivers may also not realize they have had a collision with a cat in some cases, or small animals very similar to rabbits or other wild animals, which may also cross roads late at night .
“There are also risks associated with stopping to check whether animals are alive or not, especially if they are very small animals.
“It would be difficult to enforce the law to make it mandatory to report traffic collisions involving a cat, particularly where, as MPs across the way have made clear, Petplan has suggested it could s hundreds of thousands of these incidents. one year ahead.
The proposed measures are part of a renewed effort to further raise animal welfare standards in the UK.
Pet ownership has skyrocketed during the lockdown and an estimated 2.6 million cats – more than a quarter of the UK’s cat population – are not microchipped. An earlier call for evidence showed that 99% of respondents supported the practice.
Microchipping involves the painless insertion of a chip, usually the size of a grain of rice, under the skin.
When an animal is found, reading the microchip – which has a unique serial number – means the registered owner can be identified in a database and the animal can be quickly reunited with them.
Owners are likely to face the same penalties as dog owners if they break the law. If local authorities discover a dog without a microchip, owners will have to fit one within 21 days or face a fine of up to £500.
It comes after a reported rise in the number of stolen cats, with data showing cases surging during the pandemic. Police data showed cat thefts nearly tripled in the five years to April 2021.
Labor MP Tonia Antoniazzi said many people see cats ‘as part of the family’, adding: ‘This, along with their independent nature, curiosity and aloofness, has helped them to be the one of our favorite pets.”
Under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 drivers are required to stop and report incidents of collisions with livestock or draft animals such as horses, cattle, sheep , pigs, goats or dogs.
Tory MP James Daly said changing the law would be simple, telling MPs: ‘You just add a word in the legislation, which is ‘cat’. Then we realize what has been said.
He added: “Although we all love goats, we shouldn’t make a difference when it comes to animals on value.”