Microchipping has been deemed so beneficial in England that as of April 2016 it is now compulsory to have your dog microchipped and honestly I think the microchip for cats should be the same.
So, I have come across many people who don’t realize how easy and beneficial microchipping is. If you haven’t heard of the term in relation to animals before then I will be explaining all about it later on in the post but this is something I am extremely passionate about and all of our animals have always been microchipped. In the spirit of fairness (and because we are finishing up the end of #Catweek 2016) I will be approaching the pros and cons of microchipping as well as answering the most common questions that get asked. But first…
What is it ?
A microchip is a small electronic device that is encased in a tiny glass tube and inserted under the animal’s skin which holds a unique 15 digit code and can be used in the identification of animals thanks to centralized databases.
Pro’s/ con’s of microchipping
Finding cats – Their main purpose is to ensure that you can find your cat if it is lost and the details are shared on a database system so that when the chip is scanned it corresponds to your details and voila you get your cat back. You can also register your cat as missing on these databases so that it flags up if your lost cat is found straight away. A study showed that only 1.8% of non-microchipped cats are reunited with their owners whereas 40% of microchipped cats are returned (some of the other figures were due to incorrect or out of date details so keeping them current is important).
Cool Gadgets – Microchipping comes with some extra secure cat flaps that are designed to only allow pre-programmed numbers through which means you won’t get any special visitors and it is much more secure than the conventional ones.
Tamper proof – As it is non-transmitting and embedded under the skin, the microchip is not able to be tampered with and it hinders cat theft, especially if the thief is caught and it can help to prosecute (which is extremely difficult)
Ownership Disputes – Although they cannot be used as definitive proof, microchip details and histories can be used as legal evidence towards ownership disputes and help to win the case (especially if you get things done sooner rather than later!)
Cats don’t care – Cats/animals don’t feel them once they are in and couldn’t care less about them so they don’t cause any discomfort.
They can’t come off – Unlike collars, microchips are permanent (vets usually won’t remove them unless for medical reasons and will often just put a second one in instead) which means they can’t come off, get lost or wear away! Definitely worth the money.
Insurance premiums – Many animal insurers will reduce your premiums slightly if your cat has a microchipped because they are less likely to have to pay out too much if it gets lost etc.
Home Readers – Unlike collars the information is not easily accessible if you aren’t a vet or don’t have a reader which means that in order to know who the cat belongs too they must be taken to a vet or charity to be scanned which is not always the case. It is therefore recommended that you also put other forms of identification on your cat to make things easier for anyone who might find them.
Money – Ultimately it costs money (doesn’t everything!) and so this can put a lot of people off, the truth is though that they are great value for money and cost around £20-£30 so hopefully won’t break the bank
Microchip Failure – Although it is incredibly uncommon, nothing is 100% guaranteed and this means that if the microchip fails it won’t be detected by a reader and becomes useless. That being said, you can regularly check them (read the FAQ’s below for more info)
After rehoming/Abandonment – It can be hard to change details if the cat has been rehomed privately or abandoned (and subsequently adopted) because you need the signature of the original register of the details which can be difficult to track down. Many animal charities and centers who re-home will sort this out prior to adoption and the necessary vet will take care of it though so it can be done but it’s a pain.
Wrong details – One of the most common downsides of the microchip is that people don’t update their details after changing numbers, moving house (or even updating countries) which means it is a lot harder (and in some cases impossible) to track owners down.
In my opinion the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks you can think of and the cost could be spread out if necessary if you are really struggling financially (there are also charities that can help if you are struggling with vet bills) and like I said, all of my animals have been microchipped so this is definitely biased. But ultimately I think if it helps to give you a little more peace of mind and your cat is not getting harmed by it then why not!
FAQ’s About Microchips/chipping
Do you need to anaesthetise the animal to get them chipped?
Nope, it is a simply a larger than average needle that is slightly uncomfortable (nothing a treat wouldn’t fix) and then you are all done.
How big is it?
About the size of a grain of rice
Will they know it is there?
Nope, once it’s in the cats (and other animals) won’t even notice it is there.
What is the cost?
Where do they put the microchip?
Usually between the shoulder blades behind the head.
How much do they cost to maintain?
Nothing, once you have one then that is it. Some companies may charge a small admin fee to update/change your details on the register if you move etc but many do not.
What age should cats be microchipped?
Normally if you ask you can have the kitten microchipped along with the second set of vaccinations, some vets will do it at the first.
Are there any medical side effects to microchips?
Not usually, the AVMA reviewed the literature collected by the BSAVA (The British Small Animal Veterinary Association) and found that only 391 cases were reported out of 4 million since 1996. Which in my opinion are pretty good odds and most of these were the movement of the chip from the site location (although there were some more sinister side effects)
Do they have GPS?
No, these aren’t tracking devices and are essentially static and don’t give off signals until they are activated by a handheld scanner which records the serial number.
Can they fail?
Yes, although this is an extremely rare occurrence it is not unheard of, you can get your vet to check at your cat’s annual check-up to make sure it is in working order in the right place.
*You should never try to implant or remove a microchip yourself, if positioned incorrectly or poorly removed it can be life threatening and cause issues that you want to avoid. Always seek the advice of a trained medical professional*
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*This post is part of #Catweek 2016*