The bond between any pet and their owner is irreplaceable, no matter how firmly your feline decides when they have had quite enough attention, thank you very much.
But they are also roaming creatures by nature, so may spend a few hours at any one time outside exploring. Even if they are a house cat, you can’t guarantee that they won’t get out occasionally. In this case, you may think that a microchip cat flap is handy.
If they do get lost and can’t find their way home, then having a microchip as well as an identification collar is a great way of ensuring whoever finds them can return them back to you safely.
What Is A Microchip?
A Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID), a microchip can be scanned by a vet or shelter using a dedicated scanner, which will activate an ID number.
They will have access to a database which includes information about the microchip company which the number matches, who will then be able to contact a registered premise such as a vet practice which is linked to your data. Your information will never be out there for all to see.
It is thought up to 70,000 pets are missing in the UK at any one time, and the majority are not microchipped
This means it is important to always keep your pet’s microchip details up to date. They can be accessed at any time by yourself and will need to be updated if you move house or change your phone number, email or ownership, or even if your vet changes.
Why Your Cat Needs A Microchip
Having a collar on your cat is a great idea as if anyone finds them, a quick glance and check of their ID tag can tell them all they need to know without having to take them to the vet to be scanned – which for cats could be hard.
But collars can become separated from your cat, either through their exploring or simply if they remove it through scratching or grooming. Microchips are a great backup in this case, as they can be taken to a vet and checked over.
Your cat may also need a microchip if you have a microchip cat flap or food bowl. While you can purchase collar tags which can open these too, a microchip will be more reliable.
How Are Microchips Implanted?
Cat microchips are in a syringe, which is injected under the skin where it can’t be easily removed or lost. This is usually between the shoulder blades, and it is no larger than a grain of rice.
Because they can’t easily move or get lost, they should last for your cat’s lifetime. This makes it a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to continuously pay every month for new tags.
Does Cat Microchipping Hurt?
No more than an ordinary injection would, so a little bit if they are younger but not enough to do them harm. They are inserted into the loose skin around shoulder blades, so will be barely felt. There’s no need for local or general anaesthetic, so it is a very quick in-and-out procedure.
A microchip will not affect how your cat moves and will cause no pain throughout their life!
Is Microchipping A Legal Requirement?
For dogs, yes. But not for cats, unless they are travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme where they are being taken abroad or being brought into the UK.
It is thought that 92% of dogs are now chipped, and it has seen a huge rise in the efficiency of reuniting dogs with owners and reducing the burden on rehoming kennels and dog wardens. On the other hand, only 1 in 10 cats are chipped.
This means that the rules around cats and chips are currently being debated by the government. If approved, owners could be fined if their animal were not chipped under the laws.
If your cat were to become lost, you can also inform the chip company who will tell local shelters, vets and rehoming centres for a smoother process.
Pet Theft And Injury
On a more horrible note, if your cat were to be stolen, injured by a vehicle or even die when out and about, a microchip could mean it is either easier to inform you if they are found or to let you know of the incident.
A campaign called Gizmo’s Legacy in 2019 called on local authorities to scan cats after road traffic accidents, so their owners are aware and can have some closure. Having a microchip could make this an easier process
When Can I Microchip My Cat?
A cat can usually be chipped from the age of eight to ten weeks old, or maybe even from five weeks depending on the breed.
If you adopt a cat, most are chipped by the centre before being available for adoption. Qualified breeders may also ensure their cats are chipped before rehoming. There is no age limit on the process, and as a cat can live up to the age of 20, it is never too late to get it done.
Either way, it is vital to get this done by a registered microchip professional.
How Much Does A Cat Microchip Cost?
The cost can vary at veterinary practices, but it should always be a one-off payment with no further cost to hold your details on record or change them.
Many charities and local shelters may offer the procedure for free, knowing that it could benefit both of you in the long run too. It is good to donate what you can to the charity if you do take them up on this offer.