Cat FAQ – How Microchipping Works

Microchipping attracts plenty of questions among cat owners.

People want to know how the chip is inserted, how much it costs, whether or no the procedure is painful as well as the actual effectiveness of the chip.

So we’ve put together a guide that answers these very questions, as well as other common queries relating to cat microchipping.

Let’s start with the basics. What is a cat microchip and how does it work?

What is a Cat Microchip?

A cat microchip is a tiny circuit board that’s inserted under the skin of your pet by a vet.

It has a unique identification number that corresponds to your contact details.

This is stored in a national database. Should your cat get lost, a vet or cat shelter would simply scan this code to bring up your information.

Pet microchips are “passive”, meaning they don’t have an internal power source.

Instead, the chip, which is known as a Radio Frequency Identification device (RFID), remains inert and only powers up when scanned.

The unique ID number that it stores is transmitted via radio waves which are generated by the vet’s scanner.

Unlike a cat GPS tracker, cat microchip doesn’t transmit real-time information about your cat’s location.

So how much is it to microchip a cat?

How Much Does it Cost to Microchip a Cat?

The average cost for microchipping a cat is between $35 and $60. Prices vary depending on where you choose to get the procedure done and also where you live.

Some providers charge additional fees for updating your information. These range from one-off charges to set fees for each update.

Where Can I Get My Cat Microchipped?

Microchipping for cats are available at vet clinics, animal rescue centres and sometimes cat charities.

However, we recommend that you take your cat to a vet for the procedure to be performed.

It’s very important that the actual microchipping procedure is done by somebody who’s fully-trained.

What Age Can a Cat Be Microchipped?

A cat can be microchipped at any age, although the earlier the better in our opinion. A lot of owners have their cat microchipped when they’re de-sexed or vaccinated.

12-weeks is therefore about the average age that cats are microchipped.

It‘s strongly recommended to have the procedure performed before letting your cat out for the first time.

Is the Procedure Painful?

Some cat owners are reluctant about having their cart microchipped because they assume that the actual procedure will be painful.

But actually, it’s very quick and relatively painless.

The microchip is so tiny that the vet is able to inject the microchip under the skin, usually between the shoulder blades.

The chip is preloaded in a sterile applicator which causes a slight pinch – a sensation that’s something akin to having blood drawn.

No local or general anaesthetic is required either. Although side effects have been known to occur, they’re extremely rare.

Why Should I Microchip My Cat?

In our view, microchipping your cat is absolutely essential. Should he go missing and end up in an animal shelter or vets practice, a member of staff or medical professional will be able to scan the chip and retrieve your contact information.

Why Get a Microchip When My Cat Already Has a Name Tag?

Buying a cat collar with an ID tag is obviously a good idea. And it should be considered as a first line of defence in locating and identifying a lost pet.

With that said, ID tags sometimes corrode, making it difficult to read the information. It’s also not unheard of for the collar to be removed, stolen or compromised. If you microchip your cat, these are things that you won’t have to worry about.

Can Somebody with a Scanner Access My Information?

Your personal privacy cannot be compromised by someone in possession of an RFID scanner. Even if the microchip is detected, it only returns an identification number.

The person would also have to have your security details to access the database in which your information are kept.

Am I Legally Required to Microchip My Cat?

There are no laws currently in place requiring you to microchip your cat. This isn’t the case with dogs though – all owners must have their canine companion microchipped or they run the risk of facing a hefty fine.

Organisations such as are however campaigning to make microchipping compulsory for cat owners as well.

Keeping Information Up-to-Date

It’s absolutely crucial that your register your information and then keep it up to date.

Without up-to-date info, the chip is rendered useless. So remember to update your info if you move.

Your database contact information is the only means by which a vet or animal rescue volunteer will be able to contact you.

What Happens If My Cat is Re-Homed?

If for some reason you want to re-home your cat, you’ll need to contact the database company.

You’ll then be sent a form or code to be forwarded to the new owners. It will then be up to them to register their details.

What If the Microchip Malfunctions?

The chance of the microchip malfunctioning or breaking is extremely unlikely.

However, if it stops working, the company or organisation that provided the microchip should replace the chip after being contacted by your vet. It would then be up to your vet to insert the new one.

Is My Cat Already Microchipped?

Cats adopted from welfare organisations, charities or shelters are often already microchipped.

Usually, the charity/organisation from which you acquire the cat will check during the adoption process. The contact information should then be changed accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Although some owners baulk at the idea of getting their cat microchipped, there really isn’t any reason not to.

Side-effects are practically non-existent, the procedure is safe and relatively painless, as well as being cheap.

As far as we’re concerned, microchips offer owners the best chance of reuniting with their cat should he go missing.

Video – Everything You Need to Know About Cat Microchipping

Useful Links

American Veterinarian Association – Microchipping FAQ
VCA Hospitals – Microchipping Your Cats

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