Microchipping Your Cat: Safe, Easy, and Effective

Has your cat ever gotten lost? What did you do?

Many people post pictures and notices (physically and online - Facebook, for most) and hope Kitty is found or comes home on his/her own. Hopefully, you would also check with local shelters and veterinarians to make sure Kitty hasn't been brought to one of them. After that, there's walking and driving around looking for Kitty and leaving his/her food and litter box by the door, hoping s/he comes back.

But what then? Is there anything else you could do to improve Kitty's chances of returning home? If Kitty wears a collar with ID, his/her chances are greatly improved, but many cats won't tolerate them or lose them (by "accident"). That's where the microchip comes in. According to Petfinder, "less than 2 percent of lost cats that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. The return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats was dramatically higher at over 38 percent (more than 2000 percent better).” (Source, Petfinder.) This begs the question: is your cat microchipped?


What is Microchipping?

Microchips are small computer chips (about the size of a grain of rice) that are encoded with a unique identification number. The microchip is administered like a vaccine, but with a slightly larger needle (like one used for taking blood). Usually the microchip is inserted between your pet's shoulder blades. Then you use the paperwork your veterinarian gives you to register your cat's microchip with your address and phone number(s) in an online database. It's important to make sure that, whenever you move or change phone numbers, you update your information with the online company. When a microchip reader scans your pet, that chip emits a low-level radio frequency (RFID) message with the number. The veterinarian or shelter can then look up the number in an online database to get your contact information so they can let you know they have Kitty. 

In addition to giving you more peace of mind, Kitty will never notice his/her microchip after insertion! Unlike collars and tags, the microchip can't be lost or stolen, so if Kitty gets lost and is taken to a shelter or a veterinarian, you'll be contacted so the two of you can be reunited.

It's important to understand what a microchip is NOT, too. There is a common misconception that microchips are like GPS trackers, giving your pet's real-time position. They are NOT. Currently, there is no internal product that does that. If you want to put a GPS tracker on your cat, it must be attached to his/her collar. Unlike GPS trackers, a microchip can only be activated by a microchip scanner held in very close proximity to the chip itself, and the chip will only transmit the ID number (as that is all it stores).


Is Cat Microchipping Safe?

While there can be complications from any medical procedure, microchipping is considered very safe. The most common "complication" with microchipping is migration of the chip from the injection site between the shoulder blades to another part of the body (usually down a leg or on the chest). While this can be a problem if the person scanning the pet doesn't know to scan the entire body, because it's a relatively common occurrence, the vast majority of shelter and veterinary workers know to scan the whole cat. Deleterious side effects are exceedingly rare, making cat microchipping an exceptionally safe procedure, particularly when compared to its benefits. 


Register Your Kitty!

As we mentioned above, it's important that you register Kitty's microchip online after it's been adminstered. Your veterinarian will give you the information on where and how to do it. It’s a simple process that only takes a few minutes, but without this step, the microchip is useless. Remember: the microchip gives Kitty's identification number. Your information in the online database supplies Kitty's phone number and address. 


Even Indoor Cats Benefit from Being Microchipped

Is your cat indoor only? While you might think that means Kitty doesn't need to be microchipped, you really should reconsider. After all, cats are known for their curiosity - you never know when your cat might slip through an open door and take him/herself on a tour of the neighborhood. Microchipping (and old-fashioned collar and tags) can help you be reunited with Kitty if s/he becomes lost.


Not sure if Kitty has a chip? We can check for you at your next visit, and, if s/he doesn't have one, we can easily give one. It really is worth the peace of mind! If you want to make an appointment now, give us call or click here to request an apointment.

Blog Category: