Cat owners could be fined up to £500 if they fail to get their pets microchipped

CAT owners face £500 fines for not getting their pets microchipped, ministers warn today.

Kittens will need to get tagged before they reach 20 weeks under the government crackdown.

Older cats will have to get a chip implant if found to be missing one.

Ministers say the new rules will make it easier for missing moggies to be reunited — and stop thieves stealing pets.

Owners pinged by their local authority will have 21 days to implant their felines before fines are dished out.

A consultation found 99 per cent of Brits support mandatory microchipping. But a date for the rules has not yet been set.

Charities warn almost three million of the UK’s 11million pet cats are unchipped, making them a nightmare to find if they wander off.

And 80 per cent of strays taken into Cats Protection centres are unchipped.

Having a chip means the cat’s unique serial number can be scanned against a database and the pet returned to its owner.

Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.”

Cats Protection’s Jacqui Cuff added: “Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost cats and can help ease the pressure on rescue charities.

“Without a microchip, a lost cat will most likely end up being rehomed to a new home as there is often no trace of their original owner.”

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