Microchipping your cat
There are all sorts of reasons why your cat might go missing. They might get spooked by something and run off, or maybe become disoriented or distracted in a new environment if, for example, you’ve just moved house. Of course, your cat may well be wearing a collar and an identification tag but these could get lost or removed, whereas a microchip will always stay safely in place.
As well as helping to reunite you with your lost pet, a cat microchip can also help if you ever get into a dispute with anyone about who the animal’s rightful owner is.
What is microchipping?
Microchipping a cat is a simple and fast procedure that could help reunite you with your four-legged friend. If your cat is found, a vet or animal shelter can scan your cat’s embedded microchip to find your details, and your cat’s details, from the microchip database. It really is as simple as that!
How does microchipping work?
After you’ve had a chat with your vet about cat microchipping, they will then insert a tiny microchip - about the size of a large grain of rice - under your cat’s skin. The procedure is extremely quick and it’s considered relatively painless – the sensation is said to be similar to the feeling of a human having their ears pierced. Once the microchip is in place, that’s it - your cat won’t ever know that it’s there!
The cat microchip has a unique 15-digit code, which is then logged in a national database along with your details including your name, address and emergency telephone number. Remember, therefore, that if you later move or change your contact details you must remember to update your records by contacting the microchip company. There is sometimes an admin fee applied to change your details, but some providers may waive this fee for the first change.
If your furry friend does wander off one day and is found by a kind stranger, all they have to do is hand them in to a shelter or veterinary surgery where the vet or warden will use a scanning device to see if your cat is microchipped. This scan is completely harmless and, much like a bar code on your shopping, your unique 15-digit code will be displayed along with details of the microchip database your cat is registered with. After security checks have been carried out, the microchip register will reveal your contact details to the vet or warden, and before long you and your cat will be reunited.
When should I get my cat microchipped?
Depending on their breed and size, most cats can be microchipped from the age of 10-12 weeks onwards. You may find, therefore, that a cat you adopt from an animal shelter is already microchipped, and some breeders also arrange cat microchipping as part of their service to new owners. Your breeder, vet or vet nurse can discuss the different options with you if you’re looking at microchipping a cat.
If you’re going away, and taking your cat with you, there’s an increased chance of them getting lost so it’s a good idea to have your cat microchipped before you go. In fact, if you're going overseas under the British Government’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) it’s compulsory! Either way, read our guide to travelling with a cat for more information. Once your cat has had a microchip implanted, it should remain in place for life.
How much does it cost to microchip a cat?
The cost of cat microchipping varies depending on when it is done and who does it. In most cases there’s a fixed cost to have the implant put in place, with no ongoing charges. Some charities do offer free microchipping and you may find that your veterinary surgery runs occasional promotions, so it’s worth doing your research. In terms of price, we recommend you consult your vet, breeder or rescue shelter for specific costs.
Is microchipping mandatory?
At the time of writing (May 2015), there is no legal enforcement in the UK to microchip your cat although charities such as Cats Protection are calling for compulsory microchipping. As regulations are subject to change, we recommend you keep up to date by consulting with your vet and checking government websites.