Every year, millions of pets around the world enter animal shelters as strays. Making sure that your cat has a microchip is the best chance of ensuring that they are reunited with you and your family if they should happen to go missing.
In a 2009 American study of stray animals found at shelters, cats without microchips were reunited with their owners 1.8% of the time, whereas cats with microchips returned home to their owners 38.5% of the time. That’s a fairly solid argument for the benefits of ensuring your cat has a microchip. [Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009]
When microchipped pets aren’t reunited with their owners, it’s often a result of incorrect owner details in the microchip registry database – so make sure you know your cat’s microchip identification number, and where and how to update their details when you need to.
Even if you have an indoor cat, getting them microchipped is the sensible thing to do. Many indoor cats have been known to escape, when someone accidentally leaves a door or window open. Remember Jinxy, the Himalayan cat in the movie ‘Meet the Parents: Little Fockers?’
What is a microchip?
It’s a tiny electronic chip, about the same size as a grain of rice which is implanted just under the skin, between the shoulder blades at the back of your cat’s neck. It is read by a microchip scanner which displays the identification number.
What information is stored in the microchip?
In Australia, microchips store your pet’s identification number and your contact details. It’s not a GPS tracking device to help find your cat and it doesn’t contain your cat’s medical records or anything else. It has to be scanned by a vet or at an animal shelter to determine who the owner is and how to contact them.
Is it compulsory to have your cat microchipped?
In Australia, legislation requires that all cats are microchipped before 12 weeks of age in the ACT, NSW, QLD, VIC. In TAS and WA cats must be microchipped by six months of age. In NT and SA microchipping is not yet compulsory, although it is highly recommended.
I don’t know what my cat’s microchip registration number is, how do I find out?
You should have received microchip documentation from your vet or the rescue organisation where you adopted your cat. If you didn’t, or have misplaced the papers, just ask your vet to scan your cat’s microchip for the number and keep it somewhere safe so that you can update the details when you need to.
I adopted a kitten or cat from a rescue organisation / animal shelter, will they have been microchipped?
In most cases, yes. Just make sure that you have change of ownership papers and that you register your contact details with the appropriate registry.
How do I find out where my cat’s microchip registration details are held?
In Australia, there is a website called Pet Address which contains the microchip details for all animals registered with the national registry companies. Simply type in the microchip registration number and this online service will direct you to the particular company who holds that microchip registration number, and the owner contact details.
There are five private microchip registries in Australia: Australasian Animal Registry, Central Animal Records, Petsafe, Pet Register, HomeSafeID, and the NSW government registry – the NSW Companion Animal Registry.
Note: In the United States, the website to look up your cat’s microchip details is Pet Microchip Lookup.
Have you moved house? Is your cat now living with someone else?
If your cat has a new owner, or your address, email or phone number has changed, it’s important that you update this information at the registry company holding your cat’s microchip details. Firstly, go to Pet Address, and find out which company has your cat’s microchip records. Then, go to the registry company website and contact them or fill in the online form to update your cat’s details.
Is a microchip a replacement for a collar and identification tags?
Definitely not. Collars and pet ID tags (with a name and phone number) are still a good idea for cats, especially those who venture outdoors and are at much greater risk of going missing. Collars can be removed and some cats are skilled at slipping out of them, whereas a microchip is a permanent, implanted identification tag.
Is your cat microchipped? Have you ever lost and been reunited with your cat, because someone was able to find you via the microchip owner details?
Image: orange kuma via Flickr