Microchipping is a method of identification that can help to reunite owners with their lost pets, and is becoming much more widespread. The microchip itself, no bigger than a grain of rice, is injected underneath your cat’s skin, between her shoulders, and contains all of your contact information.
According to Central Animal Records, the first Australian microchip registry to be accredited by both the Domestic Animal Registries and the Australian Veterinary Association, they reunited a total of 503,265 pets with their owners in 2013. That’s a lot of lost or missing pets; just think for a moment what might have happened if they weren’t microchipped.
Microchipping is actually compulsory legislation in some states within Australia, but even if it isn’t compulsory where you live, there are a number of reasons why microchipping your cat is important.
Why is Microchipping so Important?
You may have doubts about microchipping your cat, but think of what might happen in the following circumstances:
- Your cat gets lost and adopted by another family, or even stolen by someone unscrupulous.
- Your cat gets ill or injured while she’s out, and taken to a vet where a decision needs to be made about treatment.
- Your cat tragically gets killed on the road. Without a microchip, you may not be identified as the owner and may never know what happened to her.
- Your cat gets lost and taken into a shelter, where she could be either re-homed or euthanized.
Common Reasons for Not Microchipping
The following are the most common reasons pet parents give for not getting their cats microchipped:
1. My cat’s an indoor cat.
Although an indoor cat is not as likely as an outdoor cat to get lost or injured, it’s still possible that she might be let out accidentally, or escape the house if given the opportunity.
2. I don’t want to cause my cat pain.
The microchipping procedure is similar to any other injection, you cat may feel some slight discomfort but it’s over in a matter of seconds. Just because your cat yowls in protest doesn’t indicate the procedure is painful.
3. I’ve heard that microchips have health risks.
Microchips are of course ‘foreign bodies’, so there is the risk of the cat’s body trying to reject them. There has also been some suggestion that microchips can cause cancerous tumours at the site of the microchip, however there are hardly any documented cases and data is limited on whether this is a genuine concern. It’s common veterinary opinion that the benefits of microchips far outweigh the possible risks.
4. My cat wears a collar and tag for identification.
Collars can easily fall off, or be taken off in the case of cat theft, whereas a microchip is a permanently implanted form of identification and can’t be removed. A microchip is an ID for life.
5. Aren’t microchips a risk to my security?
Although a microchip links to an animal registry database with your contact information, you have to ask how much of a risk your name, address and phone number can cause. If you have a child at school, they probably have this basic information written on the inside of their school bag. And realistically, how often would your cat actually be scanned?
6. I’ve heard that scanner technology in shelters doesn’t always work.
Scanner technology is accurate most of the time, but no scanner on the market today performs with 100% sensitivity. There are several factors that can impact the effectiveness of the microchip scanning process. Some shelters don’t have ‘universal’ scanners that allow them to read every different type of microchip. Human error is also a possibility – shelter employees must be trained in the proper scanning technique, ensure that the scanner batteries are fully charged, and interference with metal and electronic objects in the room when scanning a cat in a shelter environment.
As well as the initial process of microchipping your cat, it’s important to let the microchip company know if you’ve changed your phone number or you move house. You’d be surprised at how many lost and found cats are microchipped but don’t get reunited with their owners because their microchip details aren’t up to date!
Is your cat micro-chipped? Why or why not? Please share in the comments below.
Top image: Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr