Almost a quarter of cats  admitted to Blue Cross in 2017 were brought in as strays but Blue Cross 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 shows most of the UK agree; with almost 80 per cent 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 per cent 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 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 per cent) 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 said they had given food or water to a cat they believed to be a stray, while 11 per cent had actually taken the cat in as their own.

Worryingly only 10 per cent 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 saying they would think a cat was stray if it was looking for food and 33 per cent if the cat wasn’t wearing a collar or regularly visited their garden.

*YouGov surveyed 2,141 adults online for Blue Cross between July 2-3 2018, of which 543 were cat owners. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).