Importance of Microchipping Cats: What Owners Need to Know

This post first appeared on iCatCare on the 30th July 2018 here.

A microchip provides the best chance of being reunited with your cat if they are lost. This is important even for indoor cats, or cats with access to an enclosed garden, as they could still accidentally escape and become lost. In England, all cat owners must have their cat microchipped by 10 June 2024 or face a possible fine.

Microchipping involves inserting a tiny implant under the cat’s skin (usually the scruff of the neck). This contains a unique number that is linked to a central database containing the owner’s address and telephone number. Should the cat become lost or separated from its owner, a microchip scanner can be used to identify the cat and find the owner. Veterinary clinics and homing centres routinely use these scanners to identify stray cats and reunite them with their owners.

Having a unique and permanent identification number is important when veterinarians are submitting test samples for possible inherited diseases. A microchip may also mean that in the sad circumstance that a cat is run over, its owner can be informed and not left wondering where the cat is. Additionally, microchips may be important in legal cases when a cat’s ownership is questioned.

Why not use a collar and tag?

Collars are removable or can become lost, and while they do help to visibly show that a cat is owned, they are not without risk (if using a collar, always ensure it has a ‘snap open’  mechanism). Microchipping is a safer option as it is permanent with minimal risk involved. To find out more about issues with collars or learn how to correctly fit a collar, click here.

Can inserting a microchip harm my cat?

International Cat Care is in agreement with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association in affirming that microchipping of dogs and cats is safe and very rarely associated with any significant problems. The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted in a similar way to giving a vaccination, causing very minimal, temporary discomfort.

When should cats be microchipped?

Many owners have their cats microchipped at the same time as vaccination or when they are under anaesthetic for neutering. A cat can be microchipped as a kitten or an adult. Microchipping can be carried out by your vet or other trained animal care professionals.

Are your details up to date?

It can be very frustrating for those dealing with lost or stray cats to find that owners can’t be contacted because they have moved away and not informed the microchip company of their new contact details. Recent information suggested that 70% of dog information on a UK database was not accurate as it had not been updated. If your cat is microchipped, check now that the microchip company has the correct details for you.

There really is no reason not to have your cat microchipped. It can mean the difference between a lost cat coming home or not.

For more information on microchipping, read our microchipping position statement.

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