PICK any area in the country and there will be a Facebook page dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their owners.

People who ‘like’ these pages are part of a vast network of brilliant, decent individuals who spend their own time sharing posts and offering help, sympathy, advice and commiserations to others who they don’t even know.

They are permanently on an emotional rollercoaster of alternating joy and sadness. No doubt, friendships will have been forged as a result. While each page has its own identity, the posts are all too familiar.

‘Please help me find my black/ginger/white/whatever cat who went out for a wander last week and didn’t come back. He answers to Lucky and loves prawns/chicken/cold ham. He is wearing a red/blue/green collar but is not microchipped.’

Immediately, there is an avalanche of comments. ‘Shared. ‘Shared.’ ‘Shared.’ ‘Please everyone check your garage/garden shed/under your car/wherever.’ ‘I hope you find him.’ ‘Come home soon, Lucky.’

Pick any area in the country and there will be a veterinary practice dedicated to treating pets to the best of their ability. Many will have their own Facebook page, each having its own identity.

Brilliant, decent staff at these practices will spend their free time posting pictures of stray cats that have been brought to the surgery by one of the vast network of individuals who care enough about animals to stop and help when they see a sick or injured cat. The posts are all too familiar.

‘Please help us find the owner of a black/ginger/white/whatever cat who was involved in a road traffic collision. He seems to have been lucky and does not have life threatening injuries. He is wearing a red/blue/green collar and certainly loves prawns/chicken/cold meat. Here is a picture of him taken in his comfy hospital cage. Unfortunately he is not microchipped.’

Immediately there is an avalanche of comments. ‘Shared.’ ‘Shared.’ ‘Shared.’ ’Please everyone ask your neighbour/friends/postman if they know who owns him.’ ‘I hope you find his owner.’ But there are some cats that don’t need these pages.

Their owners don’t trawl ‘Lost and Found’ Facebook posts. They don’t search the Facebook page of every local vet, checking frantically for pictures of their loved pet. And the simple reason for this is that their cat is microchipped. When their cat is taken to a vet after being involved in a road traffic collision, he is quickly scanned and they soon receive a phone call reuniting them within minutes.

Legally, since April 2016, all dogs must be microchipped. Surely cats should too?

In England, on March 13 this year, legislation was laid before parliament, which will require all cats (in England) to be microchipped before June 10 this year. 

The new rules mean (English) cats must be implanted with a microchip before they reach the age of 20 weeks and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database.

Owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted, or may face a fine of up to £500.

In Scotland, however, Holyrood last debated the issue on the 29th of June in 2022 and is currently still thinking.