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The Compulsory Microchipping of Cats In Wales

The fight for cats to be microchipped by law started in 2017. Future regulation set out by the UK Government would only apply to England due to animal welfare being a devolved matter, meaning the devolved nations would each have to bring in legislation themselves. Since the first consultation in 2019, we have stayed in touch with each of the relevant departments in the devolved nations, and have been continuously updating them on the progress of the DEFRA research. Now the research on microchipping has been completed, this will act as a benchmark for the devolved nations. The DEFRA research was a great success with huge public support for it (99%), so interest within the devolved nations has heated up in the last year or so. We created a petition which aimed to show them there was support in Wales for the mandatory microchipping of cats, and help pile the pressure on. Thanks to our amazing supporter base in Wales, the petition smashed the target needed to go through almost 4 times over!

The petition also raised a second issue, the scanning of microchips by councils. Scanning is an issue we have also been working with DEFRA on, and their intentions in this area will be published following the completion of the microchip legislation. Wales are aware of what we have been working on, and have confirmed to us that they are watching DEFRAs work with keen interest on the scanning side. Organisations such as Tuks Law & Ferns Law have taken the lead on vets scanning, and we've took the lead on councils. Although microchipping has been the focus, we have refused to allow councils scanning to be ignored and our Wales petition raised this. Although our previous petition saw Wales become the first all scanning nation in the world, this was back in 2017 and unfortunately Cardiff have not been honouring the promises made 5 years ago to Assembly Members in recent years. We're very happy to report that the vast majority of councils in Wales continue to do a fantastic job in this area and do scan cats, notify owners and return cats home where possible. The issue at councils goes much further than just scanning cats. Our detailed blog gives some idea of the complex issues we have been raising with DEFRA, and which we hope also to work with Wales on in the near future.

Wales debated our petition for the compulsory microchipping of cats on 27th June 2022, and we are very pleased with the support from the public, committee members, the Minister for Rural Affairs, and the agreed action that will now be taken. Wales are supportive of compulsory microchipping overall, and have since published their Animal Welfare Plan which includes a commitment to consider extending microchip regulation to cats. In partnership with Scotland, they are currently investigating the benefits of including cats in the legislation that is currently in place for dogs. They have confirmed that any proposed changes would be subject to a full public consultation process, although they cannot commit to a specific timeline for this at present.

This is not the first time Wales have approached the issue of microchipping, or been made aware of the strong public support for such. The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats was first published in 2008. It explains what owners must do to meet the standards of care set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. In 2018 the Welsh Government launched a consultation to consider whether the Code of Practice needed to be updated. We of course took part in this and raised the microchip issue, as did many other animal organisations and members of the public in agreement. Wales later stated that the consultation expressly asked for further guidance on microchipping be included.

In terms of scanning, we are very pleased they raised our concerns in the debate. Although we managed to get all of Wales scanning in 2017 with our previous petition, standards have since slipped in the odd area. Our petition noted the recent failures in scanning, and named the council we are concerned about, and the committee have agreed to act once again. The Minister for Rural Affairs will now be contacting all local councils in Wales about this so we await any decision as a result those responses.

Cats Protection estimates that more than a fifth of cats are not microchipped in Wales, regardless of relentless campaigning. We are confident the introduction of this law in Wales will save lives, aid many more reunifications, and help ease pressure on a rescue system that has sadly gone beyond breaking point. Now we await further news from the Minister after speaking to the councils, as well as the results from their research on cat microchipping.


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