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FAQs – microchipping your cats

As mandatory microchipping for cats comes into force, Michelle Townley, veterinary adviser to MSD's HomeAgain, answers some frequently-asked questions…

 

In England, the welfare of cats is taking a significant leap forward this summer. From 10th June, it will become mandatory for all cat owners to microchip their pets. This legal change aims to ensure that lost or stray cats can be reunited with their owners more efficiently. However, research from HomeAgain found that over a third (38%) of cat owners in England are still unaware of the new law. Here are some frequently asked questions I have come across in my clinic on microchipping and key things cat owners should be aware of.

Can microchips cause reactions in cats?

If you’re a cat owner and are worried about allergic reactions from microchips, fear not! Microchips are made from inert, biocompatible materials designed to be non-allergenic and non-toxic. They pose virtually no risk to your cat and the microchipping process is simple and pain-free for your pet. If you do have concerns about microchipping, chat to your vet about your concerns and what your cat may experience during the microchipping process.


Will I be able to track my cats every movement once they’re microchipped?

Sadly no! It’s a very common misconception among cat owners that microchips function like GPS trackers, but sadly you can’t pinpoint your cat’s location once they’re microchipped. Nevertheless, microchips play a really important role in lost pet recovery scenarios – they are a permanent form of identification for your cat. If a vet or animal shelter is handed your pet, they will be able to scan their microchip and safely return them to you.


How will a vet or shelter contact me if they find my cat?

Vets and shelters will scan the microchip of any cats found and look up their owners on the registered database. It’s therefore really important that you keep your contact details up to date! Updating your contact details with your veterinary practice will not automatically sync these changes with the microchip database. So, make sure you separately update your contact information if you move house or change phone numbers.


Can microchips fail over time?

This is highly unlikely and microchips are designed to last a cat’s life without needing a power source. Functionality can easily be verified during any veterinary visit. If you are concerned about this, you can ask your vet to look at the microchip as part of regular health checks to demonstrate its reliability.


Do indoor and older cats still need microchipping?

Yes, they do! All cats need microchipping from 10th June. Even indoor or elderly cats can escape or wander off and they can become disoriented more easily. A microchip acts as a safeguard in these situations.


Are all microchips the same?

Microchips are similar in terms of their technology and size but can vary in the technology they employ. For example, HomeAgain’s ‘Thermochip’ has the ability to measure a cat's subcutaneous temperature. This allows for easier and relatively stress-free monitoring of a cat's temperature through scanning the chip with a compatible scanner, rather than using a rectal thermometer which can cause your cat discomfort. Speak to your vet about the microchip and database they recommend; the most important thing is you get your microchipping done by a vet, shelter or certified microchip implanter.

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