Recent statistics show that only 70% of cats in the UK are microchipped. This means that over three and a half million kitties are currently walking around without a chip. Of course, this also means that if they were to go missing or be injured, it would be much, much harder - if not impossible - to reunite them with their owners.
In England, the law says that dogs must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old. At present, there is no such legislation for cats - though it will become law later this year.
The last 18 months have seen a huge - 63% - increase in pet cats. In the same period, many veterinary surgeries have been closed for months or can only offer a limited service to their clientele. No doubt, this will mean that many of the new pets acquired during the pandemic will not yet be microchipped.
A small chip - about the size of a grain of rice - is inserted just beneath the surface of your cat’s skin. It is typically inserted when your pet has their vaccinations, though it can be done at any time.
Each microchip has a unique code attached to it, which can be scanned by veterinary practices and animal welfare shelters.
Your contact information is stored on a secure database. This information can then be matched to your pet when their chip is scanned, helping to reunite lost cats with their owners.
First and foremost - it will soon become law, and cat owners who fail to microchip their pet could face a £500 fine.
This aside, cat thefts are on the rise - with some figures suggesting a threefold increase in the last five years.
On top of this, we know that cats tend to wander and may end up becoming lost - or looking lost. If they are taken to a shelter, and there is no chip, it is near impossible to get them back to their humans.
Last but not least - road traffic accidents. Cats love to be outdoors, particularly around dusk and dawn. Right now, these times coincide with peak rush hour. Inevitably, this means that the autumn and winter months see a rise in the number of road accidents involving cats. Again, with no chip, veterinary surgeries have no way to contact an animal’s family in the event of such injuries.
So, in short - microchipping significantly improves the chances of reuniting pets with their owners should the unthinkable happen.
The process of microchipping your cat is incredibly safe, though, as, with any procedure, there are certain risks involved - and this is why you should always trust a registered veterinary surgeon or other qualified individuals to insert the chip.
When properly placed, complications are incredibly rare - and most problems that have been reported concerned the movement or the loss of the chip rather than any discomfort or ill health of the cat itself.
The risks are so minimal that they only happen in around 0.01% of microchipped pets - and this roughly equates to 27 reported problems each year across all animals that undergo the procedure.
As a cat owner, it is incredibly important that you keep your details up to date on the national Petlog database. You should regularly check that phone numbers and other contact details are correct - and you can do this by logging in to the database at www.petlog.org.uk.
You should also ask your vet to check that the chip is still correctly placed and scans correctly - many will do this as part of their annual well-being check.
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