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17th June 2024

Two of Northern Ireland’s leading animal charities have joined forces to call for compulsory microchipping of pet cats. Cats Protection and USPCA say the measure – which became law for cats in England on June 10 – would significantly improve cat welfare and ease the strain on rehoming charities.

Northern Ireland has the lowest rate of cat microchipping, with over a quarter currently not microchipped, a total of around 76,000.  This is despite Northern Ireland having a strong track record when it comes to dogs, being the first UK nation to introduce compulsory microchipping for dogs in 2012. 

Cats Protection Advocacy & Government Relations Officer Alice Palombo said: “Microchipping is a safe and effective way of reuniting lost cats with their owner. No matter how far from home or how long they’ve been missing, if a cat has a microchip, there’s a good chance they will be returned home. 

“We regularly have unmicrochipped cats coming into our care, and use valuable resources searching for owners, often with no success. Eventually, we need to rehome these cats, even though they may in fact have an owner who misses them desperately. 

“Microchipping really works, but sadly there’s still some owners who only think about it once their cat has gone missing, and by then it’s too late. By making microchipping compulsory, we’d be building it into being an essential part of pet ownership, and that is a good thing for cat welfare in Northern Ireland.”

USPCA Chief Executive Nora Smith said: “Without a microchip, it can be impossible to trace the owner of a lost cat – particularly if a few months or even years have gone by and they have given up searching. It’s incredibly frustrating when we have a friendly, well cared-for cat which we know must have been someone’s pet, but we can’t find that owner. 

“What’s more, our charity resources need to work harder than ever, yet we need to spend valuable time, effort and money searching for owners and caring for missing cats. If microchipping was compulsory we would see rates increase, and this would mean we can reunite much more quickly, and concentrate our resources on animals most at need.”

Catherine Flanigan found out first hand why microchipping is so important after her three-year-old cat Randall went missing from their home in Moneyreagh, County Down, in March. 

She said: “We looked everywhere, put up posters, handed out flyers and put posts on local social media pages, all without success. Then one morning, three weeks later, we got a call from the Cats Protection centre in Belfast to say he’d been found – they had my details from his microchip. 

“It turns out he was only about half a mile from home but obviously couldn’t find his way back home. We’re pretty sure he had hopped into a delivery van outside our home, and that’s how he became lost. He’s done it before – we once got a call from a delivery driver to ask us if we had a cat, as he’d found one in his van. Sure enough, it was Randall. He’s a very nosy cat so I’m incredibly pleased I got him microchipped. 

“Interestingly, the person who handed him in hadn’t seen any of our posters and fliers, so it goes to show that it wasn’t much use in finding him. It was only because of his microchip we got Randall back, and I’m over the moon to have him home.”

To find out more about how to support the campaign for compulsory microchipping of pet cats in Northern Ireland, please visit



For more information please contact the Media Office at Cats Protection on 01825 741 911 or email or @CPMediaTeam on Twitter   

Notes to Editors:

  1. Cats Protection, the UK's leading cat welfare charity, helps an average of 157,000 cats and kittens a year through its national network which includes around 200 volunteer-run branches and 32 centres.
  2. Cats Protection was founded in 1927 as the Cats Protection League. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity.
  3. Cats Protection is a registered charity 203644 (England and Wales), SC037711 (Scotland) and is listed as a Section 167 Institution by the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland. A company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (06772997). Registered office National Cat Centre, Chelwood Gate, Haywards Heath, Sussex, RH17 7TT
  4. More information on the work of the USPCA can be found here

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