Did you know it’s National Pet Microchip Awareness Month? One of the most important things you can do as a pet owner is microchip your cat or dog! Should your cat become lost, a registered microchip could be the difference in having your pet returned to you.
First of all, what exactly is a microchip?
Microchips are small electronic devices about the size of a grain of rice. The chip works by emitting a specific ID number when the scanner activates it. The ID number is then used by the microchip company to pull your contact information.
How are microchips inserted?
Microchips are easy to insert and can be done during any regular appointment. The needle is slightly larger than a standard injection needle so if your cat is scheduled for a sedated or general anesthesia procedure, that’s the best time to microchip.
Why does my indoor only cat need a microchip?
Remember most cats that are lost were previously indoor only cats. They can slip out the door, a broken window, or even become spooked by a noise or house guest. Microchipping is also an important part of disaster preparedness. In the event of a natural disaster, house fire, or evacuation, your cat may become frightened and run off. If you and your cat are evacuated and have to stay in a shelter or hotel, your cat could be nervous in the unfamiliar surroundings. No one ever means for their indoor only cat to become lost so it’s important to microchip your cat regardless of their indoor or outdoor travels.
Is a microchip the only form of identification your cat needs?
While microchips are the most reliable form of identification, it’s definitely not the only one your pet needs. Always be sure your cat is wearing an easily identifiable ID tag and breakaway collar. You can buy custom breakaway collars that are bright in color and can be embroidered with things like your pet’s name, your phone number or my favorite – “Indoor Only” and then a tag with your contact information. That way it’s easily visible to anyone that might see or pick up your cat that he/she is not supposed to be outside! Many people assume that when they see a cat outside that it’s not lost – it’s just an outdoor cat. It’s one of the biggest reasons that many lost kitties are never reunited with their families.
Are all microchips the same?
Unfortunately, all chips are not universally read. There are several different manufacturers that require their own scanners. Most veterinary practices, shelters, and animal control facilities have both types of scanners or a universal scanner to ensure your pet’s chip will scan. So if your cat is ever lost and picked up by Animal Control, a rescue group, or even taken to a veterinarian’s office by a good Samaritan, the first thing they will do is scan the cat for a microchip.
Make sure if you are traveling internationally, you use an ISO chip which can be universally scanned. Be sure to check your country’s destination requirements as many have regulations regarding the timing and type of chip.
How do you register the chip?
Microchips themselves are only as good as the information they’re connected to. Many rescues automatically chip their dogs and cats, so your pet may already have a microchip. If you aren’t sure which company your pet’s chip is registered with, your veterinarian can scan the chip and look up which company the number is attached to. You’ll need to contact them directly to update your information. Remember anytime you move or change your phone number – update your contact information!