Cat Care

Should I Microchip My Cat? What you Need to Know to Decide if Your Cat Needs One

Cat Microchip

Do you have a cat or are you considering adopting one? Maybe you’re concerned about making sure that you are able to find your cat in the unfortunate event that he runs away.

You may have heard of microchipping a cat, but you’re probably wondering if it is important for you to microchip your cat.

Microchipping any pet can have many benefits. There are many questions people often ask when they are considering putting a microchip in their cat.

If you are considering having a microchip inserted into your cat, read below to find some common questions and concerns people have along with answers to address these concerns.

What are microchips? 

Microchips are small chips that contain identifying information about you in the event your pet gets lost. A microchip is very small; about the size of a grain of rice. The microchip gets inserted under the skin on a cat’s neck.

Why does my cat need a microchip? 

There are a few different reasons your cat needs a microchip. The primary reason you may want to put a microchip in your cat is to make it possible for you to locate your cat in the event they get lost or escape from your house or another location.

If a cat with a microchip gets lost and is found by someone else, the microchip can be scanned at a veterinarian’s office or shelter.

When the chip is scanned, your information will come up so you can be contacted to come to bring your cat home.

It is much more likely that a cat, or any pet, with a microchip, will be able to be reunited with its owners than a pet who does not have a microchip.

According to Animal Planet, A 2007 study by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that 74.1 percent of the time microchipped pets who were lost and found by someone were able to be returned to their owners.

This is in contrast to the only 13 percent of lost non-microchipped pets who were able to be returned to their owners.

The difference a microchip can make in reuniting you with your pet in the event they get lost is staggering. The study shows the definite positive impact a microchip can make.

Having your cat microchipped can also lead you to have more peace of mind since you’ll know it’ll be easier for you to be found in the event they get lost.

Many pets can get lost or displaced in a natural emergency such as a tornado, flood, or hurricane. In tragic events like this, shelters are often over-filled with dogs and cats who were either lost or, unfortunately, had to be left behind by their families.

Think about the positive impact microchipping cats and dogs can have in a situation such as this. In this interview with Dr. Lee Pickett, a veterinarian and a teacher, she discusses how microchipping is important when facing a natural disaster.

The interview took place before a major hurricane was expected to hit land and Dr. Pickett offered her advice to ensure the safety of your pets.

In the interview, Dr. Pickett recommends photographing your pet’s microchip certificate before evacuating with your pet before a natural disaster.

She added that any pets that did not already have a microchip should get one implanted as soon as possible before their family needed to evacuate.

Being able to prove ownership of your cat is another reason microchipping is important that you may not immediately think of.

In the event that another person is mistakenly trying to claim that your cat is theirs, you will be able to show that you are indeed the owner by having your cat’s chip scanned.

As you can see, there are many important reasons you will want to strongly consider getting a microchip for your cat.

Ensuring that you and your pet get reunited in the case of a tragedy will give you some peace of mind! Our cats are like our family; we want to do everything we can to ensure we don’t lose them!

My cat never goes outside, do I still need to get it microchipped? 

Many cat owners view a microchip as more of a necessity for a dog. After all, dogs are often left alone in a backyard and can escape through a loose fence post or the gate being left open. Dogs also go on walks and may get spooked and break out their owner’s grasp.

So, do cats that are only inside really need a microchip. The answer is yes! Microchipping an indoor-only cat is still important.

Indoor cats can, and unfortunately, do escape. Especially since your cat is so used to being only in your home, if they do happen to get outside, they are very likely to be afraid. They will likely run out of fear and may not be able to find their way home.

Your cat could also escape on the way to or from the vet’s office. If their carrier drops or isn’t latched tight, they may get out. Again, they will likely be spooked and could run away before you have a chance to catch them.

Just because you don’t plan on your cat ever going outside, doesn’t mean they never will! Remember the statistics from the study above.

Your cat is much more likely to be returned to you in the tragic event that they escape if they have a microchip.

Why does my cat need a microchip when he already wears a collar with tags? 

Some cat owners have already purchased a collar with a tag on it. In these cases, their contact information is already attached to the cat. So, is microchipping your cat just being redundant in cases like this?

Again, no, it is still important to microchip your cat. A collar with tags does not replace a microchip.

In the event that a cat gets outside, they may slip out of their collar. Also, sometimes the contact information on a tag can rub off and become faded, rendering it impossible for you to be contacted if your cat gets lost.

So, even if your cat has a collar and tags, having a microchip too is not overkill. It is simply you doing everything you can to ensure that your cat is able to be safely returned to you if anything should happen.

How can I determine if my cat already has a microchip? 

Did you recently adopt a shelter cat? Or, did you receive a cat from another family member or a friend who was no longer able to take care of it?

If you haven’t been the only owner of your cat, you may be wondering if they already have a microchip.

If you want to find out if there is already a microchip implanted in your cat, you can simply bring your cat to your veterinarian’s office or to a shelter. Here, someone will be able to scan your cat’s neck to check for a microchip.

If a microchip is found, be sure to update the information on the system. This way, if your pet every happens to escape and is found, you will be contacted instead of the previous owner. This will definitely increase the odds of you being reunited with your pet in the event they get lost.

When is my kitten old enough to get a microchip? 

A microchip can be inserted into a kitten when they are still relatively young. Most shelters will wait until a cat is about eight weeks old before they will insert a microchip, so if you have a young kitten at home, this is probably a good gauge for when you should bring them in to be microchipped.

Kittens that are younger than eight weeks could potentially have a microchip implanted, but most veterinarians prefer to wait until the kitten is a little older.

Really young kittens are most often still nursing and not as strong yet, so most veterinarians prefer to wait a little bit.

How is a cat microchip implanted? 

Inserting a microchip into your cat may sound scary. You might be worried about them being cut open or having to be put under with anesthesia. But, don’t worry, having a microchip implanted is actually a pretty simple and routine procedure.

The process of implanting the microchip only takes a few seconds. The microchip is placed in a syringe which is used to implant the microchip into your cat. Typically, the microchip is inserted between your cat’s shoulder blades.

Microchipping is such a simple procedure that your cat is not required to be put under anesthesia. This makes the whole process even quicker since you won’t have to wait for your cat to wake up. Microchipping can be done as part of a regular vet visit.

If you want to read more about the simple process of microchipping your cat, Petfinder and their partner HomeAgain, wrote an article which goes through a few more details involved in the process of inserting a microchip.

Are there any risks associated with microchipping my cat? 

Knowing that the process for implanting a microchip into your cat is simple, might ease some of your fears. However, you still might be concerned with whether or not it is safe for your cat to be microchipped.

Since your cat does not need anesthesia for the procedure, you do not need to worry about any of the risks associated with putting your cat under for other, more-involved surgeries.

Veterinarians say that the process of implanting a microchip into your cat is very safe. However, all medical procedures do have a few associated risks. This is also true with microchipping, however, the risks are uncommon.

The microchip in a few animals has moved to a new location. This could potentially cause a problem depending on where it moves to.

Also, in a few very rare, extreme cases, tumors have developed at the site where the microchip was implanted. However, it has not been proved that these tumors were necessarily caused by the microchip.

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association has tracked any adverse reactions to microchips since 1993. In this time, over four million animals have had a microchip implanted and there have only been 391 cases of adverse reactions.

According to AVMA, You can read about some of the other reported problems associated with the microchip. These problems include swelling, infection, and hair loss.

Do microchips hurt cats? 

Now that you’ve learned a little more about the process of inserting a microchip, you might be wondering if having a microchip implanted is going to hurt your cat.

The process of implanting the microchip probably feels pretty similar to a routine procedure, such as having blood drawn. There is only a momentary pinch during the procedure when the microchip is inserted.

Does my veterinarian have to implant the microchip, or can I just do it myself? 

While implanting a microchip is a relatively simple procedure, it should still be done at a Veterinarian’s office. There is a specific method for implanting the microchip. Plus, it is very important that the microchip gets placed in the correct spot in your cat.

If someone inexperienced tries to implant the microchip, it is possible they can create health concerns for the cat. They may apply too much pressure during the injection. This could cause the microchip to be pushed deeper in the cat than it should be.

This could be problematic in multiple ways. For one, if the microchip gets placed in too deep, it is possible it won’t be readable by scanners.

Additionally, implanting the microchip deeper than it is supposed to could lead to medical problems in your cat.

Can microchips move in cats? 

Most of the time, a microchip will remain in the area in which it was implanted. Every now and then, it may move around in some cats. Most of the time, this is nothing to be concerned with.

Sometimes, as your cat gets older, the microchip may move to a new location.

If the microchip moves, it can normally still be detected by a scanner. In some cases, a full-body scan may be necessary, but it should still be picked up so the chip can be read.

Since workers at an animal shelter are aware that a microchip may sometimes move, they will scan a cat’s full body if they are trying to find a microchip to locate their owner.

A microchip is inserted just below the skin. Even if it does move around a bit, you won’t need to worry about it harming any of your cat’s organs.

Will I be able to feel my cat’s microchip? 

Since your cat’s microchip will be located just below their skin, it is possible that you may occasionally be able to feel it. This will depend on the size, weight, and position of your cat.

If you are able to feel it, don’t be concerned. Likewise, if you are trying to find it, and can’t locate, you also don’t need to be alarmed.

How do microchips in cats work? 

Microchips work using radio frequency waves. It is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) device. If your cat gets lost, an RFID scanner can be used to read the radio waves and the information that has been linked to them.

After the veterinarian’s office or animal shelter has scanned your cat’s microchip and found the information you linked to it, they will be able to contact you so your cat can be returned to you.

Can I track my cat with a microchip? 

Many people often assume that implanting a microchip will allow them to track their pet. While this would be a nice feature, currently microchips are unable to do this. A microchip is not like a GPS.

Will I need to replace the microchip in a few years? 

Microchips are designed to last a lifetime. This means that you do not need to worry about replacing them after a year, two, or even ten years.

Once your cat has had the procedure to implant the microchip, there are no other procedures or surgeries you will have to worry about in relation to microchipping.

What will happen if my cat gets lost? 

When a cat or another animal runs away and is found by someone, the animal is generally brought to a veterinarian’s office or an animal shelter.

If your cat doesn’t have a collar with your contact information on it, one of the first things the employees at the shelter or veterinarian’s office will do is to check for a microchip.

To check your cat for a microchip, the workers will use an RFID scanner to look for the microchip. If there is a microchip in your cat, the scanner will recognize.

Then, the workers will be able to use this information to contact you so you can come to pick up your cat.

What do I need to do after the microchip is implanted in my cat? 

After the microchip is implanted in your cat, you have one very important, but an easy task. Simply inserting the microchip in your cat does not link your contact information with the microchip.

This means, that if you just have a microchip implanted and do nothing else, your information will not show up when your cat is scanned in the event that they get lost.

So, what should you do? You must register the microchip so that the unique code on your cat’s microchip gets linked with your data.

According to “Today’s Veterinarian Practice,” Doctor Kimberly May, DVM, MS was interviewed about her thoughts on the importance of microchipping.

Doctor May is the Director of Communications for the American Veterinarian Medical Association. In the interview, Doctor May shared her thoughts on how important she believes it is to register your microchips.

Doctor May shares that often microchips do not get registered, which means they are useless in helping locate the owners of a pet.

She says that before a family leaves the veterinarian’s office after having a microchip implanted that the staff at the office should help to ensure that their microchip gets registered.

Doctor May also stresses the importance of keeping the information associated with the microchip up to date. She suggests that at yearly physical check-ups, the staff confirm with the families that all the information associated with the microchip is current and up to date.

As Doctor May shared, it would be a waste of time to have a microchip implanted in your cat if you don’t take a few minutes to register the microchip and periodically confirm that the information associated with the chip is current.

Other than registering the microchip and keeping the information current, there is nothing else you will need to do. You can enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your cat can be linked back to you in case of an emergency or a tragedy.

I’m sure your cat would appreciate you sharing your peace of mind with them in the form of snuggles and pets, though!

Will my personal information be viewable by anyone? 

In today’s world of identity theft and so many other personal safety concerns, it is understandable that many are worried about a microchip allowing the unwanted individual access to their personal information.

Some are concerned that anyone who has an RFID scanner will be able to scan their pet’s microchip and find out their personal details, such as their address or phone number.

However, this is not how a microchip works. When a microchip is scanned, it does not display your personal identifying information. Rather, it simply provides the chip’s identification number.

Employees at a veterinarian’s office or animal shelter can use the microchip’s identification number to find the manufacturer of the chip. Then, they will be able to locate your information through the manufacturer.

Is my cat’s medical history stored in their microchip? 

A microchip does not allow you to store any medical information on it. However, if you would like your cat’s medical history to be linked to your microchip, some manufacturers provide you with the option to store that information on the registration database alongside your contact information.

So, it is your decision whether you want to link your cat’s medical information with their microchip or not.

Is it possible for a scanner to be unable to read a microchip in a cat? 

While it is rare, there are times that a scanner will not register a microchip in a cat or another pet. There are a few reasons that could lead to this happening.

Sometimes, the microchip or the scanner could malfunction, leading them to not function and read the microchip.

If your cat is moving around too much when they are being scanned, it is possible that the scanner won’t register the microchip and your cat will need to be re-scanned.

Excess fat or hair around the microchip can also occasionally lead to a microchip not being registered by a scanner.

Having your cat’s microchip scanned once a year is a recommended practice that can help you determine if there may be an error reading your chip.

This way, you’ll be able to confirm that it is working. If the vet has trouble scanning it, they should be able to troubleshoot the problem, or if necessary replace the microchip.

Are there any other ways a microchip can be useful? 

While microchips were designed to help pets get reunited with their owners after being separated, some companies have designed products to work with your cat’s microchip. These products work by detecting your cat’s microchip.

One product that is designed to be used with your cat’s microchip is a cat door. Unlike a traditional pet door that is exposed to the elements and can let other pets or animals into your house, a microchip cat door will only allow entry to your cat.

This is possible because the door is designed to read your cat’s microchip and will only open when it reads that microchip.

Additionally, some cat feeders have been designed to work with microchips. These products can solve the problem of other pets in the house eating your cat’s food.

They are designed with a cover which will only open to reveal the food when your cat is present.

So, while your primary purpose for having a microchip implanted in your cat will most likely be for safety, it is an added benefit that there are other ways you can use the microchip.

Is there only one type of microchip? 

Unfortunately, at this time, there are still some variations in microchips and microchip readers. Some microchips use a different frequency than others.

This can mean that scanners that are designed to read at a certain frequency level, may not be able to register all microchips.

Currently, there are no regulations over microchips and scanners. Different companies can produce different chips and veterinarians and shelters can decide which company they want to go with for their patients.

Is there a central database for all microchips and their corresponding information? 

Again, at this time there is no central database for microchips. Each manufacturer has its own database that stores the information tied to their microchips.

However, when a microchip is scanned, it displays the manufacturer’s information so the owners can be located.

How much does it cost to microchip a cat? 

The exact cost of microchipping your cat might vary depending on where you have the procedure completed. However, the average cost for having a microchip implanted in a cat is about $45.00.

Typically, the $45.00 fee includes registering the microchip so your contact information will be viewable by the manufacturer if something happens to your cat.

Ok, I want to have my cat microchipped. What do I do next? 

If you have decided that you want to get your cat microchipped, you’ll just need to call your veterinarian’s office to schedule an appointment so they can implant the microchip in your cat.

And, don’t forget after the vet implants the microchip into your cat that you will need to register the microchip in order for it to be linked to your information.

Hopefully, by reading this article, you have found answers to any of your questions or concerns about implanting a microchip in your cat.

There are many benefits and few negative side effects or risk factors associated with microchipping your cat. If you speak with your veterinarian, they are very likely to recommend that you put a microchip in your cat.

In fact, on their website, the AMVA (American Veterinary Medical Association), states that it recommends that cat owners microchip their pets.

The website page further states that the AMVA urges veterinarians to recommend microchipping to the pet owners who come to their practice.

If you are interested in hearing more about why it is important to microchip your cat from an employee of the Human Society, you can watch this YouTube video.

In the video, a newscaster interviews a Human Society employee in Charlotte, North Carolina. The importance of microchipping and a little more about how it works is discussed during the video.

Additionally, you can show this short video to your friends or family who may not be aware of the benefits of microchipping.

You can use it to persuade a family member who may be reluctant about microchipping your cat or worried that the process may be harmful.

The benefits associated with microchipping your cat seem to far outweigh the risks. Think about how you would feel if your beloved kitty escaped. Would you feel more confident in having her returned to you if she had a microchip or if she did not?

Remember, the whole process of having a microchip implanted in your cat is relatively quick and doesn’t cost much for you. And, it is not an involved or painful process for your cat either.

So, pick up your phone and give your veterinarian’s office a call to schedule having a microchip implanted into your cat!

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