Microchipping 101

This blog article was written by our tame vet student and blogger Joanna Woodnutt. Jo loves fostering for us and sits on our administrative board amongst her vet school duties. She has an interest in preventative feline care.

 

All cats and kittens from Lina’s Cat Rescue are fitted with a microchip. But there are a lot of myths about microchips that can lead to them being useless!

Myth 1: A microchip means your cat can be returned to you if it’s found.
FALSE. A microchip means your cat can be returned to you only if your data is up to date! If you’ve lost that phone or moved house it’ll be useless!

Myth 2: A microchip will help you to find a lost pet.
FALSE. It is not a GPS signal- it only helps if your pet is found and scanned. For this reason it’s a good idea to have them wear a collar saying that they’re chipped!

Myth 3: Only dogs, not cats, need to be microchipped.
FALSE. Although it is true that the new law only states that dogs must be microchipped, it is cats that are more likely to stray. They’re also less likely to tolerate collars, so the chip is an essential back-up!

Ok, so we’ve debunked some myths, but that raises more questions…

How does a microchip work?

A tiny chip,MICROCHIP about the size of a grain of rice, is injected under the animal’s skin just between the shoulder blades. This chip contains a unique number which can be read using a handheld scanner.

This number is held on one of a couple of national databases, and they can correlate the number with the data they have on file for that chip- such as a phone number and address.

So why do we use them?

If your cat is found, any vet, police station or charity should be able to scan him and look up the number. They can then use the data the company holds to get hold of you and return your pet. A pet can’t lose a microchip like they lose a collar, so it’s a great way of finding out who they belong to.

Microchips are invaluble to us as vets. Just the other day somebody brought in a cat that they had found and we reuinted him with his owner within the day. It’s so lovely to see. But all too often we phone the number on the file and it’s not listed, and we contact the address and there are new people living there… it’s heartbreaking that a simple mistake means this cat won’t get to go home- Joanna Woodnutt, vet student

So please remember: A microchip is only as good as the data on it. If you move house, update the data. If you change phone numbers, update the data. If it’s been a year since you last looked, why not phone them up or log in online and just double-check that it’s all correct? One day, you might be very glad you did.

So how do I change my information?

Here are some companies that hold databases and can help you to change your information:

PetLog
PETrak
Anibase

You’ll need your microchip number, which will be on your cat’s paperwork and is 10 or 15 digits long. It may look like a barcode. If your cat has a passport, it may be in there, or it might be written into their vaccination card.

If you can’t find that, try calling your vets as they might have it on their records. Or, if you know where your pet was originally chipped, try calling that vets- they may still have the chip number in their database!

If all of that fails, don’t fret! Get in contact with the companies anyway and ask them to check the pet’s details. It will take a lot longer but they should be able to trace them for you!

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