The Benefits of Cat Microchip Identification

A cat microchip is a safe, permanent method of identifying your pet in the event she becomes lost or is taken from your home.

What’s a Microchip?

A microchip is a computer chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice. It is designed to last about 25 years and will not cause any allergic reactions or other health problems for your cat. Your veterinarian can implant one under your cat’s skin between her shoulder blades in a simple, fairly painless procedure that’s similar to a vaccination. Any cat aged 6 months or older is a candidate for the microchip implant.

Your cat’s microchip has a unique code that appears when her body is scanned with a handheld scanner. It is linked to a computer file with your contact information, which you provide when you register your pet’s microchip. This code is used by animal shelters and veterinary offices to help reunite lost pets with their owners. The chip also provides a toll-free number for humane workers to call to obtain the identification information that corresponds to the chip’s code.

The microchip is not a tracking device that can be used to locate a lost or wandering animal. The technology in the chip is designed to work only when a scanner is held over the chip.

Universal Scanners Needed

Pet owners in Europe are more likely to use microchips to identify their pets than U.S. pet owners. One of the biggest drawbacks to microchip identification of pets in the United States has been that each company’s design and database was proprietary, which meant animal shelters and veterinary offices had to purchase more than one scanner in order to read the chips. However, microchip companies now work together and are providing universal scanners that read the different chips at little or no cost to animal shelters and animal control agencies.

Efforts are also underway to streamline the databases of the different companies into a network that is easier to access. The four major pet microchip companies—the American Kennel Club, Bayer, Home Again and PetLink—are working with the American Animal Hospital Association to provide an Internet search engine that helps veterinary clinics and animal shelters identify microchip codes so that the chip company can be contacted for the animal’s identification information.

Microchip Benefits

Microchips are a permanent method of identification that serves as a backup to your cat’s identification tags and collar. Many cats become adept at slipping out of collars or losing their ID tags, but the microchip stays with them for life.

If your cat is lost or stolen, she has a better chance of being reunited with you if she has a microchip. The chip can help humane organizations reunite you and your pet more quickly, and it can also help you prove ownership of a companion animal if there is a dispute.