TO CHIP or not to chip? That is the question from the government, which is considering whether there should be mandatory microchipping for pet cats - and they want the views of Echo readers.

Officials are seeking to find out what the effect of mandatory moggie microchipping would be on owners, rescue and rehoming centres and cats themselves. The call for evidence is nationwide and will last for 12 weeks.

The process of microchipping involves the insertion of a chip, generally around the size of a grain of rice, under the skin of a pet. The microchip has a unique serial number which can be read by a scanner. When an animal strays or is lost, scanning the microchip means the registered owner can be identified.

Although microchipping is a legal requirement for dogs, it is not currently required for cats unless they are travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme.

Compulsory dog microchipping was introduced in April 2016 and statistics show that 92 per cent of canines are now microchipped. As a result of compulsory microchipping, displaced dogs have been reunited with their owners much quicker, according to a government spokesman.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Today’s call for evidence on cat microchipping will help the government understand how we can better protect this country’s much-loved cats and kittens.

“This government is committed to animal welfare and improving the lives of our companion animals.

“This announcement builds on a series of positive actions we have taken to improve welfare standards in this country, including a ban on the third-party sale of puppies and kittens and a commitment to increase maximum sentencing for animal cruelty from six months to five years.”

Some BCP Council operatives already carry equipment to read cat and dog microchips which helps in re-uniting lost, injured or dead pets with their owners.

Cats Protection’s chief executive, James Yeates, welcomed the move towards compulsory microchipping.

“Microchipping is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, yet each year we still take in thousands of cats which have not been microchipped. The majority of strays we take in are unchipped and so we are usually unable to trace an owner and the cats have to be rehomed," he said.

“People tell us how knowing their cat is microchipped gives them reassurance, and it also ensures owners can be informed in the sad event of their cat being injured or killed on the road.”

n For more information on the scheme, or to have your say, visit