Let’s face it, things can happen. When disaster strikes (hurricanes, fires, floods, etc.) your indoor only cat could get lost. Or maybe your cat decided to sneak by you one day as you were bringing the groceries inside and you didn’t realize it until an hour (or more) later. If you think your cat is protected because he wears a collar with an ID tag, think again. Although it is recommended that your cat always wear a collar with an ID tag, you should not stop there since collars and tags can fall off or be removed. Your best bet is to double up by having your cat wear a collar with an identification tag and also have a microchip. In the event that your cat has lost their collar, having them microchipped will help animal shelters and animal control officers reunite you with your cat if they go missing.
You may be wondering, what exactly is a microchip anyway, a low jack for your cat? Not quite, but it is an essential tool to helping you and your pet find each other in the event that you are separated. A microchip is a computer chip about the size of a grain of rice that is inserted with a needle under the skin in between your cat’s shoulder blades. The microchip retains an identification number that is linked to your contact information through one of the various microchipping companies such as Home Again and 24 Hour Pet Watch. For the majority of cats and dogs the microchip will last their whole lifetime.
A microchip is NOT a GPS or a tracking device, so you cannot immediately locate your cat if they go missing- a special microchip scanner is needed to be able to retrieve your cats ID number. The point of a microchip is to reunite you with your pet once they are found. Unidentified pets who are found or who are turned into shelters or animal control facilities are always scanned to see if they have a microchip. If a microchip is found during the scan, the owner will then be contacted via the information provided through registration of the microchip. Always make sure that your information is up to date! A microchip is useless if it the information attached to it is not updated, or worse, if it is not even registered. It is the registration that links your contact information with the microchip and ultimately to your cat. If the chip is not registered, there will be no way to find you if your cat is located. Be sure to keep your contact information up-to-date if you move or change your phone number.
The microchip can be inserted in cats without the use of anesthesia or surgery, and you can have your cat microchipped as young as 8 weeks old. If you have adopted a shelter cat recently, odds are your cat is already microchipped- it is common practice for shelters to microchip cats before adopting them out. The microchip itself is non-toxic and will not cause any discomfort to your cat- they will never know it is there. Inserting a microchip takes less than a minute to do, and it’s just a little pinch as if you were getting a vaccine. Since the microchip is inserted subcutaneously (just under the skin), you may feel the microchip when you are petting your cat. This is entirely dependent on your cats body frame however- you are more likely to feel the microchip on a thin, older can than you are on a fat, lazy housecat!
Your cat may forever live out his or her life indoors, and never set foot outside except to go to the vet or if you are moving. However, would you want to risk it? Make the right choice for your pet and have them microchipped.