Imagine this: You have lost your feline companion and your only hope is that a good samaritan will find and return him to you. He wears a collar and tag with your contact information on it, but unfortunately, the identity tag has fallen off somewhere. So, when somebody finds your pet, they assume he is a stray because he has no identification – and they decide to keep him.
However, if your pet is microchipped and the kind-hearted person takes him to the vet for a scan, there is a better chance that you and Fluffy will be reunited. This is why microchipping is such an important procedure – it ensures that pets have a permanent, non-removable form of identification.
Microchipping cats does have its pros and cons which you need to consider, all of which are discussed in detail here.
Why you should microchip your cat
By nature, our feline friends are programmed to roam. They love exploring the outdoors and chasing birds or butterflies to satisfy their hunting instincts. But these roaming habits can also put them at risk of losing their way back home.
There are also instances when cats dash out from a new residence having just moved in, or are forced to flee from their homes due to calamities like fires or floods. Cats have also been known to escape in the middle of a road trip and get lost far from home. So, as you can see, there are many possible scenarios that could separate us from our pets forever.
Each year, millions of pets are lost and end up in animal shelters because they have no identification. Unfortunately, only two percent of cats without collars or microchips are ever reunited with their owners. This is why having your furry friends microchipped is so important. It might be their only chance of getting home if they ever get lost.
But what about collars or identification tags? These accessories are useful to identify your cat right away. If a good samaritan finds your cat on the road, the collar or tag will provide them with a quick way to contact you. However, collars and tags are not always reliable. Most cats wear breakaway collars that are designed to snap open if they get caught on something such as a tree, to prevent strangulation. Some cats might also hate wearing them and manage to wriggle out of them.
Microchipping, on the other hand, provides a permanent form of identification. This is your best defense in case your pet gets lost, because it cannot fall off like an identity tag or a collar. And, when that good samaritan takes your cat to a veterinary clinic or shelter and they scan him, your cat’s unique identification will pop up. That way, the organization can search their database for your number and contact you. This is the reason most vets would highly recommend that you have your pets microchipped.
However, despite the benefits of microchipping, a lot of owners still have their doubts about putting their pets through it, due to certain risks. If you are having doubts, it is best to educate yourself about the process so that you can make a more informed decision.
Microchipping cats – the pros and cons
We all want to give our pets the best life, and that includes keeping them safe and healthy. Thus, it is only normal to question the safety of microchipping our cats. This process may not appeal to every owner, but it is worth knowing and considering the pros and cons so that you can make the best decision for your cat’s welfare.
- Microchipping is an easy and painless procedure. In general, it only takes a few seconds to have your cat microchipped – just like a vaccination.
- The tiny microchip device can last up to 20 years, which is longer than the average cat’s lifespan. Therefore, you do not need to replace microchips throughout your pet’s lifetime.
- The microchip provider saves your address and telephone number in a database so that veterinary and animal welfare organizations can call you if they find your cat. Additionally, the microchip also saves your cat’s medical history and treatments. This way, it will be easier for any vet to track your cat’s health and treat existing conditions, if any, accordingly.
- The microchip device is about the same size as a grain of rice, so it does not cause pain or discomfort to your cat. Implanting the chip is also a painless procedure for most pets since it is almost the same as a vaccine injection.
- Unlike collars or tags, microchips will stay inside your cat, giving him a permanent form of identification.
- Microchips only provide your cat’s unique identification number. This number is then used by an organization to search for your information, like your number and address, in their secure database. Hence, only authorized parties can have access to your information.
- Microchips are not battery-operated and do not produce radio frequencies. The device is read by a scanner that emits a radio frequency. Hence, cats with microchips inside them are not subjected to any radio waves that might harm them.
- The microchip will only be useful if the person who finds your lost cat takes him to a shelter or veterinary clinic for scanning. Sadly, some people would rather keep the lost cat for themselves than surrender it to a shelter or clinic.
- You need to update your information whenever it changes. If you fail to do so and your cat gets lost, it will be impossible to reunite you with your pet.
- Microchips are typically injected between your cat’s shoulder blades. However, it is possible that the chip could migrate to other areas of the body as your cat grows. That is why vets need to examine a lost cat closely since there is a chance that the microchip will not be found immediately by the scanner – especially if the chip has migrated deeper under the skin.
- Some clinics or shelters might not have a scanner that can read the same frequency as your cat’s microchip. Hence, there is a chance that the microchip will not be detected by its scanner.
- Some studies have revealed that microchipping cats can increase their risk of developing tumors. However, there is not sufficient data available to prove this and the cases are quite rare.
How the microchip is implanted
The microchip is implanted into your cat’s skin through a syringe and a needle that is slightly bigger than those used for vaccines. Most vets typically inject the device between your cat’s shoulder blades. Since it is only 12mm long, it should be too small to cause any discomfort to your cat. Implanting is a painless procedure and only takes a few seconds, just like administering a vaccine. Depending on your vet’s recommendation and your cat’s pain tolerance, the procedure might be done under anesthesia or with sedation.
The microchip is designed to last for many years under your cat’s skin without the need for replacements. There is a small chance that the device could fail, although this is quite rare. In the event that it does fail, a new chip can be implanted without the need to remove the old one.
Things to consider before microchipping your cat
The microchipping procedure is generally safe and rarely causes any complications. However, there are some guidelines you should know before you head to the clinic to have your feline chipped.
1. Know the purpose of the microchip
Some pet owners assume that microchips can help them track the whereabouts of their pets. This is not true! The implanted microchip is not a GPS tracking device, but a chip that contains your cat’s information. Veterinary clinics and shelters use this information to contact you in case your pet is found by a good samaritan.
Additionally, microchips rarely cause irritations and tumors, contrary to what many people might believe. The device is almost the same size as a grain of rice and should not cause pain and discomfort when implanted under your cat’s skin.
2. Know that health complications are possible
Microchipping is a medical procedure, so there is still a small chance that your cat might develop complications. Some cats might also reject the foreign device, which can cause inflammation. In this case, your vet might prescribe medications to deal with the symptoms and help your cat heal quickly.
3. Always consult your vet
Cats are unpredictable. One day, they are sitting at your window gazing at the birds, and the next, you might find them dashing out of your front door to escape. Hence, microchipping is the best choice to ensure your feline is returned if he ever wanders off and gets lost. However, microchipping does come with some risks. So before you take your cat to the clinic, make sure that you discuss the procedure with your vet. Ask for clarifications as well as the risks involved. This will help you make an informed decision as to whether this procedure is the best choice for your cat.
When is the best time to microchip your cat?
Although implanting a microchip is a safe and non-toxic medical procedure, kittens around four weeks of age or younger are still weak and require a lot of care. Hence, as a standard practice, most vets would recommend that a kitten be at least eight weeks old before they undergo the procedure. You should also consider your cat’s stability and general health to determine whether he is ready for the chip implantation.
Microchipping an indoor cat
Owners of strictly indoor cats may wonder whether microchipping their pets is necessary.
All pets can get lost, whether they are outdoor or indoor cats. Even though your furry friend stays inside most of the time, there is still a chance that he may wander outside your home and become lost.
For example, indoor cats have been known to get lost while moving into a new home or having suddenly dashed out of the door after hearing a loud noise. Also, any time you are taking your furry friend for a veterinary checkup, she might slip away from you during your trip.
As you can see, even an indoor cat has many opportunities to escape and get lost. Having them microchipped is, therefore, the best option if you want to increase your chances of a happy reunion in the event that your cat wanders off.
Biggest misconceptions about microchipping cats
A lot of people are skeptical about microchipping their cats, largely due to certain misconceptions. Let us review them one by one.
First, a lot of people think that microchips are like GPS devices that can help them track their lost pets. This is not true! As mentioned before, a microchip does not pick up or emit any radio waves. Instead, it only acts as a storage device for your cat’s unique number, which is used to access your information from a secure database. A microchip only “wakes up” when a scanner is close by.
Second, microchips do not store your personal information. Instead, they contain an assigned identification number for your pet. When an authorized individual scans your cat, for example in a shelter or a clinic, your pet’s identification number is used to access the secure database so that you, the owner, can be contacted. Hence, your private information is safe, unlike on a collar or identity tag.
FAQs about microchipping cats
1. Do cats with collars or tags need a microchip?
Collars or tags are considered the first line of defense in identifying a lost pet. However, microchipping is generally more reliable than collars and tags. Since the device stays under the skin, it cannot fall off. Despite this, not all cat owners feel the procedure is the best option. Having your cat undergo this procedure is a decision that only you can make.
2. How painful is microchipping?
Most pets will only experience a mild pinch during the procedure, which is almost the same as administering a vaccine. The microchip is the same size as a grain of rice and is loaded into a sterilized syringe. During the procedure, the vet will inject the chip underneath the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades. The process only takes a few seconds and does not generally require anesthesia.
3. How much does microchipping cost?
Some people assume that microchipping is an expensive medical procedure. However, you might be surprised to know that it only costs around $30 to $50 to have your cat implanted. Additionally, you will also need to pay $20 or less to have your information saved in the secure database. If you have adopted a stray cat, some clinics or shelters will provide the procedure for free.
4. How do I register or update my cat’s microchip information?
If you have recently moved to a new residence or changed your contact number, it is important to keep the microchip information updated. You can do this by visiting your local veterinary clinic or checking out online registries like Found Animals and PetLink. You can also look up the microchip information for adopted pets by searching these links:
- AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup
- RFID-USA Microchip Look Up
- PetLog Microchip Lookup
- PetLink Microchip Search
5. Does microchipping cause cancer in cats?
There are mixed opinions as to whether microchipping can cause cancer in cats. According to some studies, smaller animals like rats have shown an increased risk of developing tumors after chip implantation. Some cats have also been reported to develop cancer after the procedure, but these cases are few. Additionally, cats generally do not have the same cancer risk as test rodents, because they do not have the same biological systems.
Hence, there is insufficient evidence to prove that microchips can cause cancer in pets. Microchipping is still considered a safe procedure for cats, especially since it has been practiced for decades.
6. What are the side effects of microchipping a cat?
Microchipping is a harmless procedure and does not hurt your cat at all. In most cases, microchipping does not cause any side effects. However, there is a small risk of health complications or infection, but this is very rare.
7. Is it cruel to microchip a cat?
Microchipping your cat is not cruel; the procedure is harmless and non-toxic. However, it is still a personal preference and it is up to you, the owner, to decide whether the procedure is right for your pet.
Microchips can last up to 20 years, thus surpassing the average lifespan of cats. Therefore, one device can last your cat’s lifetime.
Wrapping it up
A microchip is an important tool to help retrieve lost pets. The implantation procedure is safe, inexpensive, and only takes a few seconds to complete. However, this technology may have some drawbacks for some people, which you need to consider before having your cat implanted.
Overall, however, many experts believe that the benefits of microchipping far outweigh the risks, and a lot of vets still recommend this procedure. Microchipping ensures your cat’s identification is never lost and therefore increases the chances that you and Fluffy will be reunited in the event that he wanders off.
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