Microchipping your kitten your questions answered

Microchipping is the best way for you and your cat to be reunited if they go missing. Petplan veterinary expert Brian Faulkner shares everything you need to know about how microchips work and why it's so important that your cat has one.

Cats love to explore their territory, and can sometimes come home missing their collar and ID tag. Microchips increase the chances of a cat being reunited with their owner if they get lost or injured while wandering. For that reason, microchipping is an essential part of your cat’s care.

Microchips are small electronic devices, roughly the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted under the skin of a cat’s neck and contain a unique ID number. The number can be read by a microchip scanner and links to a database that contains the owner’s details. This means that if a missing pet is found, a vet can scan their microchip to find out the owner’s details and ensure the pet is returned to their owner as quickly as possible.

Under a new law, microchipping will soon be mandatory for all cats, even those who live indoors. All cats will need to be microchipped before they’re 20 weeks old. Owners must ensure their cats are microchipped by 10 June 2024 or risk a fine of up to £500.

If you’re getting a kitten, your vet may recommend they be chipped at the same time as receiving their vaccinations or when they’re neutered. If you have an adult cat without a microchip, ask your vet about booking them in to get microchipped a soon as possible.

Cats love exploring and can sometimes wander far from home. This increases the risk of them becoming lost, which also increases the risk of injury from incidents like traffic accidents or fighting with another cat. Even if your cat wears a collar and ID tag, the collar can fall off and leave them without any identification. But if your cat is microchipped, their details can always be traced.

During my career, injured pets have been brought to my surgery by people who found them. But if these pets don’t have a microchip, we have no way of contacting their owners. This leaves vets in a difficult position because while they can alleviate a pet’s pain, they don’t have the authority to perform more advanced treatments such as surgical operations. It’s a really distressing situation for all involved.

Microchipping for dogs has been mandatory since 2016, with the practice playing a major role in successfully reuniting owners and their pets. When you consider that microchipped cats are 21 times more likely to be reunited with their families, according to International Cat Care, it’s easy to see the value of this little device.

No. Sometimes pet owners assume that a microchip works like a tracking device, allowing them to see where their pet is at all times. But that's not the case. A microchip can only be read by a scanner – it doesn’t emit a signal and there’s no way that anyone else can discover your cat’s location through it. If you do want to monitor your cat’s location, a GPS tracking collar is what you need.

Implanting the microchip under your cat’s skin is as quick and simple as a vaccination and doesn’t even require any anaesthetic. Once it's implanted it's also completely painless and your cat can’t feel it. If microchipping had a negative effect on pet health, the law that makes microchipping compulsory for dogs would never have been passed in 2016.

Kittens can be microchipped from the age of 10–12 weeks.

Microchipping your cat is a quick and easy procedure. Your local veterinary practice will have trained staff who can insert microchips. While each veterinary practice will set its own fees, the procedure typically costs between £10 and £20.

I always say that the most important thing to remember is to keep your details updated on your microchip’s database at all times. That way, if your cat ever does go missing, the chances of you and your pet being reunited are far higher.

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