Microchipping a Cat

Microchipping your cat is an inexpensive way to have your cat identified and returned to you if they ever run off. Think of this as a modern day dog collar, even though your cat likely doesn’t wear a collar. Animal shelters and vet clinics have scanners that they can use to check to see if your cat has a microchip, and after getting your contact info they’ll call you to let you know that they have found your missing cat.

If you want peace of mind knowing that your cat can easily be identified if they run off, this is something you should have done early in their life.

Because of how easy this is, it’s required by almost every country if you ever wanted to travel internationally with your cat. 

What is a Microchip?

A microchip is a small electronic device that is implanted inside the skin of your cat, usually in their back between their shoulders.  The microchip is an electronic device about the size of a large rice grain that acts as an identification tool for your cat. The microchip contains a unique identification (ID) number. This identification number contains information about the owner that’s stored in a database and can help reunite the lost pet with its owner.

Microchips are more reliable than collar tags. This is because collar tags can separate from the cats, and because most cats do not wear collars. Since the microchip is implanted inside the skin of your cat, there is no chance of it getting separated.

How to Microchip Your Cat?

A microchip can be implanted in your cat by a vet or a shelter near you. The process is easy and only takes a few seconds. It’s injected under your cat’s skin using a needle. 

There is no fixed location where the microchip needs to be implanted but it’s generally inserted under the skin between their shoulder blades. Because it’s only a needle prick, your cat isn’t given anesthesia while the microchip is being inserted. 

How Safe is it to Microchip Your Cat?

The process is absolutely safe and it will not cause any pain to your cat. Most cats are very calm when the microchip is inserted. The only pain that they may feel is similar to when they get their blood tested. It’s just poking a needle through their skin. 

Millions of cats have been microchipped in the United States and there have been no reports of behavioral problems or health complications after the process. The only concern is that of the microchip moving to some other location. To check this you can ask your vet to scan the microchip when taking your cat for regular check-ups and see if it has moved. It’s not a big problem because it rarely happens.

How Does the Microchip Work?

The microchip doesn’t have a power source of its own and is only activated when an RFID scanner is used within 6 – 8” of the microchip. The embedded microchip then displays the identification number on the scanner.  The vet or animal shelter can then use the identification number to find out information about the owner of the cat. They can get this information by contacting the manufacturer of the microchip that can give them the information about the cat’s owner by looking in the database.

The microchip does not contain any other information apart from the unique identification number. This helps keep your information private. Because the database is only as good as what you give them, it’s important to keep your information in the database current. Inform them about any change to your address or contact numbers. If you don’t update them they won’t be able to contact you if someone finds your lost cat.

Another important thing to know about the microchips is that they are not a GPS device. What this means is that you cannot track the location of the cat in real-time. 

Does Microchipping My Cat Guarantee that I will get Them Back if They are Lost?

The microchip is not a GPS device. It doesn’t have the ability to track the physical location of your cat if they get lost. The only way you’ll get your pet back is if someone finds them and takes them to a vet or a shelter.

Benefits of Microchipping a Cat

Every year millions of cats get lost in the United States. Many of them are not strays but are unable to reunite with their owners. This is because they don’t have a microchip which makes it difficult for authorities to track down the owners. This is why a microchip can be a great help:

Unique Identification

A microchip gives a unique identification number to your cat. The microchip is inserted inside the skin of your pet which makes it impossible for anyone to remove it from them. If your cat gets lost the microchip can help others find your contact information. Anyone who finds your cat can take them to a nearby shelter or vet and they will use a scanner to read the number on the microchip. This will allow them to contact the manufacturer of the microchip and get information about the owner. The owner can then come to the vet or shelter and be reunited with their lost pet.  

When Moving Abroad with Your Cat

If you are planning to move abroad with your cat there are several things that need to be done before you move. Microchipping your cat is one of them. Almost all countries make it mandatory to microchip your cat before it is imported. This helps the authorities identify the owners of the cat and avoid any disputes if your cat is lost or stolen.

How Much Does a Microchip Cost?

The average cost of a microchip is between $15 to $20. If you go to a vet to get your cat microchipped it can cost you around $50 for the service. This could be lower if you are getting them microchipped during their regular check-up with your vet. A shelter home near you could do it for even less.

Microchips don’t have any maintenance costs associated with them and once inserted will last for the entire life of the pet. Most manufacturers will charge you an annual fee to keep your records in the database. You can find out about this while getting them microchipped.

Some shelter owners already have their cats microchipped. Getting a cat that’s already chipped will let you save some money when you adopt the pet from the shelter. When you buy a cat from a breeder they may help you get your cat microchipped as a part of their services.

Which Microchip Should I Get?

There are several companies that manufacture microchips and for the most part they all do the same thing with few differences. Some microchips can be read by universal scanners while others would require specific scanners. The best thing is to use a microchip that is most commonly used in your area. The shelters and vets in your area will have the scanner to read these microchips allowing them to easily scan the microchip.

Are There Any Side Effects After Microchipping My Cat?

Any possible side effects are very rare. Considering the millions of cats that have had a microchip implanted into them over the years it is incredibly unlikely that your cat will experience anything. However, some cats may have a small amount of hair loss at the injection site. This is usually from scar tissue, but again unless you are looking for it, it is quite unlikely you will see it even if it happens.

Are Microchips Safe for Cats?

Yes, millions of cats are implanted with microchips each year and the vast majority don’t even have the smallest side effects. When you consider the benefits of having your cat returned to you the cost should outweigh the inconvenience of an implanted chip.

Is Microchipping Painful for Cats?

It will feel the same as if they received a vaccination or had their blood drawn. It is very minor, and they’ll forget about it seconds after it’s been injected.

How Long Does a Microchip Last?

Microchips are designed to outlast the life of your cat. They are designed to work for 25 years and very few cats will live to be 25.