Should I Microchip My Cat? Why a Microchip Is Important for Your Kitty
Pet microchips are a useful technology that can be hugely beneficial to your cat. However, it’s normal to have questions about microchipping your kitty. Not sure what a cat microchip is or how it can help your fur friend? Below, Cat in a Flat teaches you all you need to know about microchipping your feline.
What is pet microchipping?
A microchip is a form of ID for your cat. They’re no larger than a single grain of rice and can transmit information about you and your feline. Each microchip has an unique ID number which connects to a secure database where your contact information is stored. If your feline goes missing or ends up at a shelter or veterinary hospital, someone can use a handheld scanner to scan the microchip and retrieve your information. Generally, this should direct them to your phone number and/or address so they can get in touch and let you know where to find your furry friend.
Pros and Cons of microchipping my cat
Not sure if you should microchip your cat? Here are the main pros and cons of pet microchipping.
- Easy reunification. The biggest pro of microchipping your cat is that you can become reunited with them fairly easily should Mr Whiskers ever get lost or run away.
- Universal. The majority of vet clinics and animal shelters have scan guns precisely for identifying lost pets and reuniting them with their owners. So, if your kitty gets picked up and taken to a nearby vet office, it’s very likely they’ll have the tools to scan your cat’s microchip, find your information, and contact you.
- Secure. Unlike collars or tags, a microchip cannot get lost. A microchip will most likely remain beneath your kitty’s skin for the duration of their life. It can’t fall off or be taken off like a collar and, as long as you keep it up to date, is a more permanent and secure option for keeping track of your cat.
- Longevity. Cat microchips are meant to last around 25 years. While the lifespan of a feline can vary from breed to breed, most cats live around 12 – 18 years. So, most likely your cat’s microchip will outlive them. This means Mr Whiskers doesn’t have to go through the implant process more than once and it’s highly unlikely the microchip will ever need to be replaced!
- Safe and painless. Many paw parents worry that microchipping their cat is dangerous or painful. However, this is not the case. When your vet implants the microchip, it will feel like a standard injection to your cat. Once the microchip is in, your kitty won’t even notice it’s there.
- Sensitivity. While getting a microchip implanted is a relatively painless process, some kitties may have more sensitivity than others. This can lead to some inflammation or soreness around the implant site.
- Not a GPS. A common misconception is that a microchip is also a GPS device which can be used to track your fur friend’s exact location. This is not the case. A microchip only contains an ID number that, once scanned, can help a veterinarian or other professional contact you.
- Mis-scans. Just because your cat has a microchip doesn’t mean that any veterinarian or shelter worker will be able to scan it and find you. Some scanners may not be able to read the data on your kitty’s microchip, or it’s possible to miss the microchip (especially if it’s migrated to a different spot in your feline’s body) or incorrectly scan it. The point is, while a microchip does greatly increase your chances of finding your kitty if they go missing, it’s not 100% foolproof.
- Needs updating. The microchip ID number will connect only to the most recent information you provided to the manufacturer. So, if you’ve moved or changed your number, you will need to update the microchip information. Likewise, if you adopt a cat who already has a microchip, the first thing you need to do is update the information so it connects to you and not your kitty’s previous owner.
Reasons to microchip your cat
Overall, the pros of microchipping your cat far outweigh the cons, and most vets recommend it. Undoubtably, your kitty is like family to you and you would be devastated if they were lost. Our furry friends are curious and clever creatures and it’s in their nature to explore. Even if Mr Whiskers is an indoor cat, accidents do happen and your kitty could still escape or get lost. As a great paw parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your feline safe and healthy. Microchipping them is one way to do that.
A microchipped cat can be helpful for your cat sitter too. While it’s unlikely anything will go wrong with one of our vetted and responsible cat sitters, it’s always best to be prepared. Your kitty may feel upset you’re away, you may forget to close a window, or Mr Whiskers may escape another way. In these cases, you and your cat sitter will feel greater peace of mind if your kitty is microchipped.
Do I have to microchip my cat?
In the U.S., you are not required by law to microchip your cat. However, many paw parents choose to do so anyway for the safety of their pet. In some states, vet clinics, shelters, and animal control are required by law to scan stray animals for chips and attempt to contact their owners. This helps shelters avoid overcrowding and successfully reunites cats with their paw parents.
How do I microchip my cat?
If you want to microchip your cat, you will need to take them to the vet for the procedure. Here are the steps to microchipping your feline:
- Before the vet inserts the sterile microchip, they will scan the package to confirm the identification code and ensure both the package bar code and the transponder code match up.
- The vet will load the needle containing the microchip into an application gun or syringe and position the cat for the injection. It’s possible you may need to assist the vet in holding Mr Whiskers in the proper position and keeping your kitty calm.
- Next, the vet will gently pull up the loose skin between your cat’s shoulder blades and quickly insert the needle. They’ll squeeze the application trigger and the microchip will immediately be injected into your furry friend’s tissue.
- After your vet has inserted the microchip, they will scan the chip again to make sure that it’s reading properly. You will then input your contact information into the secure database where, when scanned, your cat’s microchip will immediately connect to.
How to update your cat’s microchip
If you have to move house with your cat, one of the first things you should do is update the information on their microchip. Here’s how to change the contact information on your cat’s microchip:
- Get the microchip number. Call your vet clinic and ask if they have your cat’s microchip number in their records. Alternatively, you can also take Mr Whiskers to the veterinary office to get the microchip scanned and find the number this way.
- Look up the number. The database where your cat’s microchip info is stored is determined by the number prefix on your feline’s chip. Your vet can also help you determine which manufacturer you need to contact based on the microchip number.
- Contact the manufacturer. Usually, you will need to fill out an online change of details form. Simple and straight-forward!
Looking for more tips on caring for your cat? Check out our blog post on the pros and cons of neutering your kitty and this nifty list to help you prepare your home for your cat sitter while you’re away.