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Why cats should be microchipped as well!

We’re sure you all know by now that it’s a legal requirement to get your dog microchipped… but have you stopped to think about cats? In this blog we’re going to look at why microchipping is important for ALL pets, whether they bark or not!

Is it a legal requirement in cats?

No, it isn’t in most situations - it’s strictly voluntary. The only exception is for cats who might go visiting outside the UK with their owners - if you want to bring your pet back into the country after a visit to France, or Spain, or indeed almost any mainland European country, they must be registered on the PETS Passport scheme. In this case, they need to be microchipped (as it’s a permanent identification) and then vaccinated against rabies.

Otherwise, though, no - it’s not a statutory requirement.

So why should I care?

Because cats wander! Studies suggest that although dogs and cats are roughly equally likely to be lost, cats are far less likely to be returned to their owners. It seems that cats prefer to find a new home and set up there, forgetting that their original owners are probably still missing them.

However, having a microchip means that the chance of your cat being returned is much, much higher - because the microchip identifies the cat as being registered to you, so as soon as they turn up and are scanned by a vet, we can find out where they really belong!

What does it involve?

An injection between the shoulder blades - just like their annual boosters. This inserts the microchip under the skin where it stays, ready to be read by a special reader (technically, a RFID scanner). Pretty much every vet practice now has at least one or two, and many charities also have them, to identify cats (and dogs, of course!) that are just lost, not strays.

Is it painful for them?

Well, it is a bigger needle than the normal vaccine one. However, it’s a one off jab - and in most cases, the cat doesn’t even bat an eyelid! They usually seem to accept it quite happily.

How does it work?

The microchip consists of a biocompatible glass or plastic coating (which won’t react with or harm the body in any way), wrapped around a radio-frequency transponder. This doesn’t broadcast any signals or contain a battery, but when the right radio frequency is sent to it (by the scanner), it reflects the signal back, but modified to encode a unique number. This number is the unique identifier for your pet.

Of course, there are lots of variations on the basic theme - some microchips will also report your pet’s temperature, for example - but the principle is exactly the same. In fact, it’s the same basic technology as a contactless payment!

How reliable is it?

Very - chip failure, while it does occur, is very rare nowadays. In the past, chips used to migrate quite often, and end up elsewhere under the skin (not usually a medical problem, but it can make finding and scanning the chip more complex!); this is much rarer with the modern forms though.

As long as you’ve done your part, the system works really well.

What do I have to do?

You need to make sure that your details are kept up to date on the central database. The microchip only encodes a unique number - the vet, animal worker or charity will then look that number up on one of the national databases. This allows them to find out your phone number and address, so they can contact you to say that Kitty’s been found! However, if you’ve changed your number, or moved house, without updating the database, it may prove impossible to get in touch.

So, make sure that you record any changes and your pet has a much better chance of coming home if they ever do wander…!

If you have any other questions about microchipping, get in touch! Our vets and nurses can advise you, or book your pet in to be chipped - and boost the chances of reuniting the two of you if anything does happen!