ENGLAND have just announced the compulsory microchipping of cats will come into force next year. This follows a five-year-long wait after CatsMatter worked on the legislation with MP Rehman Chishti. As you can imagine, we are ecstatic the time has finally come after working so hard and for so long on this, and a date has been set at last!

However, animal welfare is a devolved issue so the new law will not apply to Scotland. Our co-founder is in the Highlands and we have been fighting for five years for Scotland to follow suit!

We recently petitioned the Scottish Government and are so pleased with the result, which was that the microchipping of domestic cats featured in the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission’s work plan as a medium-term issue. Of course, we are very pleased with this result and hope this is the beginning of Scotland following Defra’s lead and introducing the compulsory microchipping of cats in Scotland.

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Microchipping is a vital part of responsible pet ownership. If a cat goes missing, a microchip can help get the cat back safe and sound to their owner. Microchips can also be used to identify owners in instances when people have abandoned or mistreated cats, and help free up space in rescue centres for genuine stray and feral cats.

Currently, rescue centres all over the country are bursting at the seams, with many having cats on waiting lists into the hundreds waiting to enter. Many of those cats will have owners, but without a microchip there is no way for rescue workers to identify the cat and get them home.

Also, and most importantly from our stance as a feline road accident organisation, is that cats are euthanised purely because no owner can be located. When a cat is hit by a car and taken to the vet, the vet is only obliged to administer pain relief. Treatment beyond that is determined by an owner or at the vet’s discretion. Although some vets will go above and beyond and try to do all they can, others will not. We have known road accident victims to be euthanised with simple cuts and bruises, all because no microchip was found.

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Cats Protection state that just 68% of cats are microchipped. England statistics shown there were 71% of cats microchipped at the time they introduced the new law, so the percentage in Scotland was lower. Animal organisations of all kinds continuously advocate for microchipping, and we feel that they have taken it as far as they can possibly go now. The statistics are likely to change dramatically without government intervention.

The public support when Defra held consultations was a staggering 99% approval rating, and we expect Scotland would be very similar should the government open its own consultation. We know from speaking to and working with rescue organisations all over Scotland, as well as general cat owners, that the support is there in Scotland and we urge the Scottish Government to begin work on this. Although the commitment to look at this in the medium-term is fantastic, we would like to hear a time frame.

Carlie Power

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SO, the cat is out the bag. The SNP has 72,186 members. At the end of 2019, the SNP had 125,691 members. The latest number is down by 43% on then.

Regardless of who or what is to blame, should one of the first actions of the new SNP leader not be to have a cross-section of these lapsed members contacted with a view to finding out why they left and what it would take for them to rejoin?

That might assist with any potential policy rethinks in the time between now and the next election.

Brian Lawson