Cat owners could face a £500 fine if their pets are not microchipped under a new law that states all pet cats in England should be inserted with the small electronic device.

Millions of cats are set to be microchipped by June 2024 after the compulsory cat microchipping legislation was introduced in Parliament on Monday.

The new rules mean that all cats must be microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks and contact details will be stored and must be kept up to date in a pet microchipping database.

The aim of the new law is to make it easier for pet cats that are lost or strays to be returned to their homes safely which Environment Secretary Therese Coffey described as a time of “devastating” loss for many owners.

Border Counties Advertizer: All pet cats will need to be microchipped by 2024All pet cats will need to be microchipped by 2024 (Image: Canva)

When is the deadline for cat owners needing to microchip their pets?

All cat owners must have their pets microchipped by June 10, 2024.

Owners who don’t get their cat microchipped will be given 21 days to have one implanted and if they don’t, they could face a fine of up to £500.

In England, there are more than nine million pet cats with as many as 2.3 million not microchipped, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Microchipping will not be compulsory for free living cats that live with little or no human interaction or dependency, such as farm, feral or community cats.

Microchipping of dogs became compulsory in April 2016.

Ms Coffey said: “Cats and kittens are treasured members of the family, and it can be devastating for owners when they are lost or stolen.

“Legislating for compulsory microchipping of cats will give comfort to families by increasing the likelihood that lost or stray pets can be reunited with their owners.”

Chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost pets.

“As we’ve seen with dog microchipping, those who are microchipped are more than twice as likely to be reunited with their owner.

“By getting their cat microchipped, owners can increase the likelihood that they will be reunited with their beloved pet in the event of it going missing.”

Cats Protection, the cat rescue and welfare charity, welcomed the move and has been calling for all owned cats to be microchipped since the measure was first introduced for dogs.

Madison Rogers, of Cats Protection, said: “The charity regularly reunites owners with their much-loved cats and in most cases this is only possible thanks to microchips.

“No matter how far from home they are found, or how long they have been missing, if a cat has a microchip, there is a good chance that a lost cat will be swiftly returned home.”

How does microchipping work?

When a cat or dog is microchipped, it involves inserting a chip under the skin of the pet.

The chip is generally around the size of a grain of rice.

It has a unique serial number that the keeper will need to register on a pet database.

When an animal is found, a scanner can read the microchip and the registered keeper on the database can be identified so the pet can quickly be reunited with its owner.

Defra said those with cats that are already microchipped will need to make sure their details are up to date.