Charity calls for compulsory microchipping of cats to prevent families losing them forever
Almost a quarter of cats admitted to Blue Cross in 2017 were brought in as strays but the charity believes most of them were actually owned pets and hundreds of UK families are now grieving over a beloved missing pet.
Microchipping, compulsory by law with dogs, is a way of swiftly reuniting a missing pet with their owners – as long as the owner keeps their contact details for the chip up to date. Blue Cross is calling for microchipping of cats to become compulsory to reduce the number of strays they take in every year. A survey commissioned by the charity shows most of the UK agree, with almost 80%  supporting a change in legislation to protect the nation’s cats.
Out of all the cats admitted for rehoming with Blue Cross in 2017 a staggering 80% were not microchipped and for those admitted as a stray there was no way the charity could track down their owners and the pet charity had to find them a loving new home.
The survey also reveals that around two million cats in the UK are at risk of being lost to their owners forever, with almost a quarter (24%) of owners admitting that their pet is not microchipped.
Karina Grimwade, Blue Cross rehoming manager, said: “We know how heartbreaking it can be when a beloved family pet goes missing. If pets aren’t microchipped there is no way of reuniting them with their owner. During the summer months cats go out for longer and often wander further, leaving them at a higher risk of getting lost.
“We see a huge rise in the number of strays admitted during the summer months - almost two thirds more compared to winter. Don’t risk losing your pet forever, make sure your cat is microchipped and your contact details are kept up to date. You can also reduce the chances of your cat straying by neutering them.”
The survey also shows that more than half of Brits (54%) would not know what to do if they suspected that there was a stray cat in their neighbourhood. Blue Cross has launched new advice at www.bluecross.org.uk/straycat and is offering a free paper collar to download and attach to a suspected stray to find out if they are actually owned.
Karina continues: “Cats will always come back to a reliable source of food so kind animal lovers believing a cat to be a stray and feeding it might actually be luring it away from home. We know of cases where they have even ended up keeping the cat themselves, leaving their loving owners at a devastating loss of not knowing what happened to their pet.”
Over a fifth of people surveyed (22%) said they had given food or water to a cat they believed to be a stray, while 11% had actually taken the cat in as their own.
Harry the cat was reunited with his family after going missing ten years ago. Blue Cross was able to contact the cat’s owner after they scanned Harry for a microchip. The cat had been taken in by a man who believed him to be a stray and had kept him for all those years. The cat, now 12 years old, was brought in for rehoming after the gentleman died.
Another owner had an early Christmas present when she was reunited with her cat Tyson last December - nine years after he had gone missing. A family has taken him in after mistaking him for a stray and the cat, now aged 16, had been brought in for rehoming when they could no longer look after him.
Worryingly only 10% of people surveyed said they had reported a cat they believed to be a stray to a pet charity or vet, with over a third (39%) saying they would think a cat was stray if it was looking for food and 33% if the cat wasn’t wearing a collar or regularly visited their garden.
However, happily a cat was reunited at one of the charity’s rehoming centre in Cambridge thanks to the microchip. Ripley had been missing for three weeks and was handed in as a stray at the centre who immediately checked for a microchip. The scan revealed the chip and the owner was contacted – they lived just half a mile away from the centre and where the cat had been picked up as a stray.
Blue Cross offers free microchipping at all of its rehoming or clinical sites. For more details of how to help a cat you think might be a stray or to find out more about microchipping your pet visit www.bluecross.org.uk/straycat
 Blue Cross pet charity admitted a total of 5,057 cats in 2017. Of those, 1,286 were stray or abandoned cats. Out of the total cats admitted by Blue Cross 3,970 were not microchipped.
 79% of 2,141 adults surveyed by YouGov between July 2-3rd 2018.
 The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association Pet Report for 2017 showed there were eight million pet cats in the UK. Calculation by Blue Cross found that 24% of 8 million is 1,920,000.
 22% of 2,141 adults surveyed by YouGov between July 2-3rd 2018.